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The Life And Teachings of Sri Madh vac nary ar 

CM. Padmanabha Char 







High Court Vakil (Madras) residing at Coimbatore. 

Author of Dhruva's Penancf, Govardhanlsha Vilasa, (Sanskrit 

Dramas) Dw\dasa Stotram Commentary, 

etc, etc , etc. 


Copy-Right Registered. 
All Rights Reserved 

January 1909 Pr'C2 Rfi 3. 



Sir P. t Krishna (Dooithy, B.L, CLE, 

Jagirdar of Elandur and 

Retired Dewan of Mysore. 

By virtue of his position 


community, and as a tribute of esteem for the 

ben1ficence, piety, and scholarship, that distinguished 

his ancestors in the past, and continue to shed 

lustre on him as the illustrious scion, 

possessed, in a full measure, of 

distinguishing qualities of 

the head and heart, 

This humble work is, by permission, respectfully 



Scale 16 Miles ah Inch. 

T f 7 " T 



PART 1. 

The Life of Sri Madhva. 


Introduction ... 

Chapter 1 . 

• pp- 


- 9 


Sri Madhva's Parents 

and Birth ... 


II .. 

• pp 


- 25 


Date of Sri Madhva ... 


Ill .. 

• pp- 






IV .. 

• pp- 


- 41 


Boyhood up to Upa- 



V .. 

• pp. 


- 50 


Upanayana and early 



VI .. 



- 61 


From Upanayana to 

Sanyasa ... 


VII ... 



- 69 


The young Sanyasin... 


VIII ... 

• pp- 


- 82 


Other dialectical tri- 



IX .. 

• pp. 


- 93 


Sri Madhva's tour thro' 

Southern India 


X .. 

• pp- 




First tour to Badari ... 


XI .. 

• pp- 




Return Home 


XII . 

■ pp- 




Reforms at Udupi ... 


XIII ... 

• pp- 



Second tour to Badari 


XIV .. 

• pp- 




The return journey 


XV .. 

• pp- 




Pandit Trivikrama 



XVI .. 

• pp- 




Vishnu Theertha &. 

other Sishyas 


XVII .. 

• pp- 




The last days 



• pp- 






Teachings of Sri Madhva. 

1. Sri Madhva's personality 

A General View 

2. What we owe to the 

Founder — some charac- 
teristic traits of Madh- 

Chapter I ... pp. 218—227 

do II 




The waves of Vaishna- 
vaism, A Bird's eye- 
view from a layman's 




• pp- 



Dwaita and Christian In- 




.. pp. 



Dualism compared aud 
contrasted with other 

Hindu Darsanas 



• pp 



A broad view of Maya- 



VI . 

• pp- 





VII . 

•• pp- 



The Individual soul apart 
irom its Material 




.. pp. 

HI 8— 337 


Some concepts of God ... 


IX . 


.338— 353 


Is God Knowable? 
Pravritti Marga,The path 



" pp- 

3j4— 366 

Outward Bound 


XI . 

- pp- 

3f,7— 388 





• pp- 

389— 40fi 


Nivritti Marga 



• pp- 


General Remarks 

• pp- 



Section 1. .. 

• pp- 



Section 2. . 

• pp- 



Section 3. . 




Section 4. . 

- pp- 



Moksha or Release 


XIV . 

• pp- 


Life of Sri Madhva. 



""^Tsj"r?J6.- _ _ _'_' " _ " j 







Tradition is strong on the West Coast that the 
land of milk and honey known as Malabar and Canara, 
was, within a comparatively recent geological age, a 
submerged area of the Arabian Sea. This country is 
a sharp slope from the Western Ghauts, known as the 
Sahya Hills, in Sanskrit Literature. It is a narrow 
strip of land hemmed in by a long wall of mountains 
on the east and the Arabian Sea on the west. This 
country is generally known to the orthodox as Parasu- 
ramakshetra. Parasurama is a well-known Brahmin 
Rishi of the Puranas, who is said to have waged 
repeated warfare against the Kshatriyas and relieved 
oppressed India from the tyranny of wicked kings. 
After accomplishing this mission of his Avatar, tradition 
goes on to say that he wanted a secluded spot for 
his own retirement and asked of the Ocean (the 
Arabian Sea) for a strip of land. An extent that could be 
measured by the throw of Parasurama's battleaxe was 
granted to him in response to his wish. Parasurama 
availed himself of the grant by making a good use of 
the concession, by throwing his battleaxe, which in its 
flight, covered the whole country now comprising both 
Canaras, both Malabars, Travancore and Cochin. So 


goes the tradition. This is set forth in the District 
Manuals of Canara and Malabar. One who knows 
the barren tracts of the East Coast, and judges the 
west therefrom, will find himself grievously mis- 
taken. The gigantic forest of the Western Ghauts, 
the never-failing down-pour of rain, the certain paddy 
crops of the annual harvest, the groves of the cocoanut 
and areca palm, with luxuriant clusters of jack studding 
the face of the country, impress the traveller with such 
a refreshing sense of luxuriance and plenty, that he 
feels himself more or less on enchanted soil, amidst 
sceneries that prove the country to be a pet child of 
Nature smiling under a shower of Nature's choicest 
blessings and bounties. The fertility of the soil, the 
picturesque Scotch scenery of hill and dale, the virgin 
woods of teak and rosewood, the waving expanse of 
green paddy, the luxuriant vegetation reminding one, 
by contrast, of patches of stunted bushes and arid 
wastes that pall the eye in Coimbatore and elsewhere, 
depict a picture altogether different from any that the 
traveller has known. 

Looking at the people, he is no less struck with 
their peculiarities than by the physical aspect of nature. 
He will be surprised and delighted to meet a race of 
men and women very handsome in appearance and fair 
in complexion, with regular clear-cut features, dark 
eyes and flowing tresses. Women of the labouring 
classes, those of the lowest grade in the social scale, 
Sudra coolies, and Pariah labourers, even these would 
compare favourably with Brahmin ladies of the Chola 
country, in their clear white skin, flowing hair, dark 
eyes and symmetric build. 

Their customs, manners and laws are no less pecu- 
liar than the traits noticed above, To the bulk of the 

I.*j t&tRODtJCTION. £ 

aboriginal, people, viz. Namboodries and Nayars, 
marriage is an unfamiliar institution, and to them, 
inheritapce by sons and d^jughters is almost unknown. 
It is obvious from the unique nature of th# customs 
prevailing in Kerala, that the Aryan influence of the 
North was rather late in invading this territory. Ac- 
cording to history, it was not before 750 A.D., that 
Mayuravarma, a Kadamba king, introduced Brahmins 
from Ahikshetra, when successive inroads of Maho- 
medan hordes convulsed Aryavarta and forced the 
Brahmins to emigrate therefrom into the South. 
These settled themselves in various parts of Southern 
India. The Kerala country was somewhat late in 
obtaining its contingent of Brahmin supply. 

It may be that the flower of Brahmin intellect found 
its way into the South, when it found the atmosphere 
too hot for it in the North. It is some such reason that 
may perhaps account for the fact that the chief religious 
reformers of India, Sri Sankara, Sri Ramanuja and 
Sri Madhva, who claim between them almost the 
whole of the Hindu population within their fold, were 
born in Southern India, Of these three, the first and 
last, Sri Sankara and Sri Ma'dhva, belong to Parasu- 
ramakshetra itself. 

Sri Sankara was born at Kaladi, a village east of 
the present Alwai Railway Station on the Gochin- 
Shoranur Line. As to the age of Sri Sankara, opinions 
are sharply divided. Western scholars are unanimous, 
in fixing 788 A.D. as the year of his birth. Mr. C. N. 
Krishnaswamy Iyer adopts this view in his u Life of 
Sri Sankara ". Theosophists, however, seem to think 
that this religious Teacher belonged to pre-Christian 
times. They say that he followed Budha within a 
century after. Mrs. Besant refers to a tradition in the 


Bwsraka Mutt and to a document said to have been 
discovered in the State Offices of His Highness the 
Gaekwar of Baroda in support of her view. According 
to this theory, Sri Sankara was born in Yudhishtira 
Saka 2631 (B.C. 476), had his upanayana on 6th Chitra 
2636 (B.C. 471), renounced the world by assuming 
Sanyasa on the nth Kartika 2639, and passed away 
on 15th Kartika 2663 (B.C. 444). 

Sri Ramanuja belongs to the tenth century. He 
was born at Sri Perumbudoor in the Chingieput 
District in 1118 A.D. Chaitra Sudha 5th of Pingala. 

Sri Madhva belongs to the 13th century, and he 
was born in South Canara, a part of Parasurama- 

As to the sources from which materials can be 
gathered for a *' Life " of Sri Madhva, it has to be 
remembered that Sriman Madhva Vijia by Narayana 
Pandithacharya is almost the solitary fountain of 
information on the subject. It is very probable that a 
biographical sketch of Sri Madhva was composed in 
his own time. Some one of his learned disciples 
seems to have kept a diary of his tours, and sketched 
his doings from time to time, recording all the 
important events of his life. These biographical 
sketches are not extant now. The only authoritative 
biography extant is the well-known Madhva Vijia 
written by Pandit Narayanacharya. This Pandit is 
almost a contemporary of Sri Madhva, for, his father 
Trivikrama Pandithacharya was a convert of Sri 
Madhva, who, having conducted a memorable con- 
troversy with the Master and become convinced, sought 
ch4aship under him. This event was towards the 
latter part of Sri Madhva's career. Pandit Narayana* 

I;} INTRODUCfidtf. $ 

chafya might have been with his father in this eventful 
time. His junior paternal uncle, Sankarachar by name, 
had been Sri Madhva's Librarian for some time even 
before. This Library was stolen by enemies about 
this time, and it caused great sensation and stir. 
Hence, if Pandit Narayana was of mature years, he 
should certainly have known all about the Library 
theft and his father Trivikrama's controversy. 

It is, however, doubtful if the author of the Sriman 
Madhva Vijia wrote the whole of Sri Madhva's life from 
personal knowledge. Two passages in Madhva Vijia 
(one in Chapter X and the other in Chapter XVI) show 
that there was an older biographer from whose poetical 
work this author derived information. 

Making some allowance for poetic fancies, the ac- 
count contained in Madhva Vijia is fairly full and 
authentic. It is, of course, not written on the lines of 
modern biographies with a full and minute description 
of men, places, and dates. This, however, does not 
detract from its merit seriously. 

Quite recently, short sketches have appeared in the 
English language dealing with the chief events of Sri 
Madhva's life and times. Among them, a u Histotical 
Sketch of Madhva and Madhvaism" written by 
Mr. C. N. Krishnaswamy Iyer, m.a. deserves special 
mention. It is a laudable attempt to bring this Guru 
to the prominent notice of the English-reading public. 

The chief difficulty in respect to the great sages of 
India is that very little is known of their personal 
history. Their work lives solidly amongst us. Their 
influence is actively felt everywhere. Dead bones are 
astir with life at the mention of their names. But as to 
the details of their doings, such as go to fill up volumes 


<a$ Western biographies, our knowledge is exceedingly 

In the case of Sri Madhva, the ignorance of West- 
ern savants is very amusing. Very few of them seem 
to have heard of this Teacher at all, and even these few 
seem to have very hazy and erroneous notions indeed. 

For instance, a German Scholar of note whose 
knowledge of our religion and philosophy is fairly 
accurate and full, sets out Sri Madhva's system at some 
length with great appreciation, and ends by confound- 
ing Madhva with Vidyaranya. He says that Sri 
Madhva died an abbot of Sringeri Monastry!!! 
Aufrecht who is the author of a tremendous compila- 
tion for the benefit of all and sundry in the shape of a 
Dictionary of Oriental Names and Works — a volume 
known by the bombastic title of " Catalogus Catalago- 
rum M devotes some space to Sri Madhva. After a short 
account of the Teacher, he confounds him with 
Anandagiri and Madhavacharya (Vidyaranya), mixes 
up in a jumble the works of all these various teachers, 
and fathers them all on Sri Madhva. Some of these 
are, of course, Advaita books whose tenets and princi- 
ples it was the life-work of Sri Madhva to overthrow. 

The District Manual of South Canara contains a 
short sketch. But this too is faulty in some respects. 
It says that Sri Madhva was born at Kalianpur and 
that he visited Vijianagar with the influence of a 
Sringeri abbot ! These two startling assertions are 
sufficient samples of the prevailing ignorance. 

Mr. Krishnaswamy Iyer's work is fuller and better 
informed. He availed himself of Madhva Vijia and 
took some trouble to investigate. Unfortunately, errors 
have crept in, even in his book, not only on matters of 


opinion &nd dogma, but also on points of history and 
geography. iFor example, Mr. Krishnaswamy Iyer 
mistakes a series of places in South Canara District to 
be places in Northern India. He thinks that " Sari- 
dantara" referred to in connection with a tour of Sri 
Madhva is the doabi between the Jumna and the 
Ganges, and that Vydianath of the same tour is the 
place which is now a Railway Station on the 
Chord-Line of the Punjab. But these places are well- 
known places of South Canara. Saridantara is the 
doab between Kumara Dhara and Netravati of Manga- 
lore. Similarly, Vydianath, Paranti, Ucha Bhooti, are 
all places in the same district. Kanwa is not a river, 
but only a Sacred Pond near which the eight first 
ascetics of the Udupi Matts were initiated and in- 
stalled. This place is near Manjeshwar and Kasargod. 
The tour was consequently not a northern tour at all. 
Mr. Iyer's information on this and several other points 
was evidently misleading. 

In this state of affairs, I offer no apology for 
making an effort to explore the same field over again. 
Possibly, I may founder more grievously than my 
predecessors and make more serious mistakes by con- 
founding facts with fictions. In spite of this risk, I 
think that attempts should be made to explore for facts 
in order to throw light on what is still obscure. 

Before laying aside Mr. Krishnaswamy Iyer's valu- 
able book, I cannot help giving expression to a sense 
of aching at the heart to observe the spirit in which 
the book seems written throughout. A vein of sneer 
lurks underneath the whole of the writing. The reader 
feels it more a caricature than a history. A lack 
of sympathy and appreciation is prominently in 
evidence, It looks as if the supposed bigotry of the 


HMtivas upset the author s equanimity ; it looks as 
if the author wrote parts at least of the Historical 
Sketch, gnashing his teeth at the slander in calling 
Sankara, old Maniman re-born, and the blasphemy in 
identifying Sri Madhva with Bheema of the Maha- 
barata fame. 

After all, nobody is competent for any task unless 
he has his heart therein, unless he is in sympathy with 
the views he sets out and unless he is an admirer of 
the hero whose biography he undertakes to write. 
Mr. Iyer cannot, struggle as hard as he may, forget and 
forgive the wrong that he thinks Sri Madhva has 
done to his faith. He must be more than human, if he 
did so. If my remarks require verification, it is only 
necessary to glance at a few pages of Mr. Iyer's 
" Sankara", and compare the spirit in which that work 
is written with that of his " Historical Sketch of 
Madhva and Madhvaism." Madhvaism ! One has only 
to mark the word. Madhva's system evidently does 
not even deserve to be cited as a philosophy, nor does 
it deserve to be called by any other name than 
"Madhvaism/' as it is neither a reasoned scientific 
theory of the universe nor a true exposition of Vedic 
Theology, but some fad of the individual Madhva, an 
" Ism " of his own, and nothing more ! Other instances 
proving Mr, Iyer's attitude may be referred to. But 
nothing is, however, gained by multiplying instances. 
A Madhva can easily spot them as he glances through 
his "Sketch." 

After a perusal of the " Historical Sketch," a non- 
Madhva would simply run away with the idea that Sri 
Madhva was a bit of an Impostor who called himself 
Bheema and read strange theories into the Indian 
Scriptures, Whether this is a correct estimate of Sri 

n.J parents Am AlftfH g 

Madhva or not, it is left for true scholarship to judge. 
Mr. Iyer's version is Sri Madhva seen through " Noi> 
Madhva ", I had almost said, " Anti-Madhva " eyes. 
I shall make an humble endeavour to depict Sri Madh- 
va as seen through Madhva eyes. Mr. Iyer confesses, 
besides, that his work is not addressed to the orthodox' 
I see no reason why the orthodox should be treated 
with coldness and left severely alone and out of 
account. Let me address a short account to the 
orthodox and be satisfied with such poor thanks as these 
may extend to me for taking them into consideration. 


Sri Madhva's Parents And Birth. 

The country lying to the west of the Western 
Ghauts from beyond Bombay to Cape Comorin comp- 
rised the ancient Kingdoms of Konkana, Canara, and 
Kerala. j&The Konkana abutted on Maharashtra 
country,?Miose capital was Doulatabad. The language 
which the Konkan people speak even now is a dialect 
ofMahratti. Canara consisted of the modern North 
Canara and South Canara, the former being included 
in the present Bonlbay Presidency, and the latter in 
the Presidency of Madras. Kerala was the southern- 
most strip, including the modern British Malabar and 
the Native States of Cochin and Travancore. 

South Canara is the district with which we are 
most concerned as the native land of Sriman Madjiva 
Muni. In this district, the taluq of Udupi is, for the 
same reason, a holy region for every person professing 
the Madhva faith. 


> It is difficult to say whether Udupi was in the 
ijaiddle ages, a place of any historical or political 
«$fiortance. The province of Canara seems to have 
been under the sway of Vishu Vardhana, the great 
Vaishnava King who was converted by Sri Ramanuja. 
It is learnt that this King broke the power of Chal- 
ukyan rulers in this part of fSouthern India. The 
Bairasu Wodears of Mysore held sway in 1250 A D M 
and flourished 'till 1336 A.D,, when their kingdom 
became merged in the rising Empire of Vijianagar, 
the State that Mr. Sewell refers to as 'a forgotten 
Empire' and Mr. Suryanarayana Rao as ' the never-to- 
be-forgotten Empire' of this peninsula. 

The Chandragiri river that runs between Bekal 
and Kasaragod in South Canara, was the southern 
boundary of the ancient Tuluva Kingdom. It is a 
magnificent stream in the rainy season. Tradition 
forbids Nair women of Kasaragod, crossing this river. 

Eight miles north of Kasaragod is the ancient town 
of Kumbla, now a Railway Station, situated close to 
the sea on a peninsula. It was a place of great import- 
ance at this time, though it is now much decayed. It 
was the Head Quarters of a Chieftain whose descend- 
ants are now in receipt of a small Government pension 
under the titular name of " Kumbla Rajahs". Udupi 
and Mangalore were probably under the immediate 
rule of this Chieftain, Mangalore being only about 22 
miles north of Kumbla. 

At the time of our history, one Jayasimha was 
the Kumbla Ruler. He came into contact with Sri 
Madhva in the latter part of the Gurus life and was 
evidently a great admirer of the Teacher. 

Among the communities that played a great part 
in the history of the times, the Jains seem to have 

11.] PARENTS AM) BIRTH. 1 | 

been Very pfofninent Their Bafetis, Bettoos, and 
St&fttt>tias, fiirnish eloquent testimony to the vast influ- 
eitee they wielded. The Karkal Statue of imposing 
height and weight, said to be 41 feet high and 80 tons 
in weight, is a striking item of proof. The Mudbidri 
temple of 1,000 pillars is a magnificent monument of 
their architectural skill. The pillar at Hale Angadi 
towering 50 feet high is a remarkable specimen of the 
kind, unsurpassed for delicacy of workmanship. Simi- 
lar statues of colossal height and weight, speak volumes 
for the dominating influence that this community 
possessed in Sri Madhva's time and for some centuries 

The Brahmin communities of the West Coast are 
generally classed as Konkans, Saraswats, and Shivalli 
sects* The Shivallies are Tuiu-speaking Brahmins, 
and it is with these that we are most concerned, in the 
present narrative. 

Shivalli is an alias for Udupi otherwise known as 
Rajata Peetapuram. These names are derived from the 
deities of the two ancient temples in this town. The 
temples of Chandra Mouleeswara and Ananteswara 
both face the east, one being in front of the other. 
These were the most prominent features of old Udupi, 
before Sri Krishna's temple came into existence in Sri 
Madhva's time. 

Udupi is a short designation for Chandra Moulees- 
wara, Udupa being the Sanskrit word for the Moon. 
In the temple of Ananteswara, the deity is seated on a 
pedestal of silver. Hence the town is known as Rajata 
Peetapura. Shivalli is a corrupt form of the Canarese 
expt^ession Siva Belli, the silver of Siva, in allusion to 
the silver pedestal aforesaid. 


iu It is a matter for conjecture, whether the Shivalii 
Qbriwnins of the period prior to Sri Madhva's avatar, 
yfWpz Sivites pure and simple, or belonged to the sub- 
division of Brahmins known as the followers of the 
Bhagavata Sampradayam. It is very likely that a 
large section belonged to this class. 

Even now, this sub-section of Brahmins following 
the Bhagavata Sampradayam, is found in large numbers 
in various parts of South Canara. They represent 
the transition stage between the Sivite and the 
Vishnavite. Their chief tenet is that Siva and Vishnu 
are deities of equal greatness. They wear namams 
(tracings) in gobi mud or sandal in a manner quite 
similar to Madhvas, without using the metallic seals 
(mudrasj which alone distinguish them from Madhvas. 

It is important to note that except in the shrine of 
Sri Krishna, which was founded by Sri Madhva, all the 
temples of Udupi and the neighbourhood possess 
Lingam as the idol of worship. Nowhere is there an 
image of Vishnu such as we find in plenty in the 
districts of the Ea$t Coast. Tradition and local 
Puranas call some of these Lingams representatives of 
Vishnu and others as those of Siva. Ananteswara is 
belived to be a Vishnu temple though the idol is a 
Lingam. Tradition says that it is the God Parasurama 
himself that took his seat on the silver pedestal. 

If we observe the ritual of worship still obtaining 
in the temples, whether the idol be Vishnu Lingam or 
Siva Lingam, we are struck by the circumstance that 
the procedure, methods, and recitations are not those 
regulated by Pancharatra but by the Agamas. Siva 
3ahasranama is resorted to in these so-called Vishnu 
temples as often as Vishnu Sahasranama. Little 


temples $ed|<»ted to Bhootas forni the adjuncts of 
almost every temple in this district. These Bhootas- 
tarns are tell~|ale remembrancers of devil worship 
characteristic of aboriginal fetish. In no other district 
is the worship of family spirits and temple Bhootas 
so largely in vogue, their propitiation on every conceiv- 
able occasion, auspicious and inauspicious, being 
universally deemed an indispensable duty. 

In corroboration of the view that the Bhagavata 
Sampradayam had a strong footing, it may be observed 
that this is the sect that holds possession of most of the 
ancient temples, and officiates therein even now. The 
very nomenclature of some of the deities is significant. 
The deity in Kooduvooru is known, for instance, as 
Sankara-Narayana. In other places, it is Hari-Hara. 
It is very often thus a combination of Vishnu and Siva 
in some paraphrased shape. 

It does not appear that the Visishtadwaita creed 
of Sri Ramanuja ever secured a foothold in Parasu- 
ramakshetra, though this secession from Sri Sankara's 
faith affected the Chola country a great deal, and 
parts of Carnata too. Srirangam and Conjeevaram 
were the centres of the Sri Vaishnava propagandism, 
but its echo was but feebly heard beyond the 
mountain barrier of the Western Ghauts. After all, 
Sri Ramanuja did not precede Sri Madhva by more 
than a couple of hundred years. 

The only compromise that took place in pre- 
Madhva days between the Sivite and the Vishnavite 
was the reform of Bhagavata Sampradaya. These 
adopted some Vaishnava ideas in ceremonial observ- 
ances and paid a special regard to Yekadasi. 

The parents of Sri Madhva probably belonged to 
this sect of Brahmins. Madhyageha the father of Sri 


Madhva, was a pious Brahmin, who had scrupulously 
Immt all that the fashionable orthodox literature of 
the day had taught him. He had studied the Vedas 
and Vedangas with care, and assiduously swallowed all 
the philosophy that a liberal scholarship was bound 
to devour. 

Whether the learned Brahmins of the day wor- 
shipped Hara or Hari-Hara, whether their practices 
were those of Sivites or of Bhagavatas, their philosophy 
was at this time the Adwaita of Sri Sankara. Monism 
was the official creed, so to say. There was no other 
philosophy that had disputed its soundness and its 
sway. Pandits who cared for reputation studied the 
Advaitic literature commonly referred to as a lach 
and a quarter granthas, and digested and assimilated 
as much of them as possible, into their thought. 

But a secession was gradually in formation. Sri 
Sankara's monism was no doubt accepted without open 
protest, but a vague feeling of unrest was slowly taking 
shape. The Upanishads, the Bhagavatgeeta, and the 
Brahma Sootras, were no doubt assumed to inculcate 
the unreality of cosmos and the reality of Para 
Brahmam alone, but in the prevailing harmony of 
thought, a jar of dissent was becoming feebly audible. 
It was probably the distant echo of the reformation in 
the Chola Kingdom ; or may be, it was an instinctive 
feeling of protest due to the inherent tendencies of 
devotional minds. 

Some renowned scholars of the day spoke out 
their mind in the matter. They said that the technical 
" Self-Realisation forming the be-all and end-all of 
Sri Sankara's creed, was a delusive mirage absolutely 
beyond reach. They adverted to the blasphemy 
lurking in the idea of the Jeeva and Brahman being 

il] parents and birth. 15 

regarded as on^e. The emotional craving of the human 
mipd t<? go down upon knees before a loving and 
forgiving Father, and pour forth prayers of devotion 
unto Him, asserted itself powerfully, so as to throw the 
cold intellectuality of monistic identity into shade. 
The news got abroad that some learned men such as 
the Guru of Purushottama Theertha alias Achuta 
Prekshacharya had whispered with their dying breath, 
a peremptory injunction to their Sishyas (disciples) 
not to practice " Soham,' 1 because the attainment of 
godhead inculcated thereby, was an impossibility. 

These were signs of unrest. The public mind was 
in a state of tension and suspense. The waves were 
evidently heaving for a storm. A vague sense of 
dissatisfaction, a consciousness that something was 
wrong somewhere, that some screw was out of joint, 
perplexed men's minds day by day. Doubts and 
misgivings were slowly gaining volume and strength. 
Mental struggles, vague contritions, inaudible whis- 
pers, and secret schisms, were developing slowly but 
surely into shape, to prepare society to welcome a 

It may be that the unrest was not entirely due to 
the doctrinal heresy of Adwaita, but to moral and 
ritualistic heresies also. It may be, that the land, 
where the Jain flourished with his mission of inoffen- 
siveness to animal life, regarded cruelties in sacrifices 
and excesses in Sakti worship, with horror, and longed 
for change. Anyhow the old order of things wished 
tor a change yielding place to a new. 

Mahdyageha Batta was evidently a prototype of 
this restless class. He was rather sceptical about 
" Soham." He turned all his attention to Itihasas and 


Fllftfettas, studied Bhagav&ta and Mahabarata, and spent 
his time in expounding these, to the best t)f his lights, 
to large audiences. This Puranic learning, especially 
his scholarship of Mahabharata, earned for him the 
revered designation of Bhatta. 

The true name of Madhyageha Bhatta remains 
unknown. The meaning of this word conveys the 
idea that he was the occupier of a central house in the 
village. u Naduvantillaya " is the Tuluva designation. 
This Pandit was evidently named and referred to, with 
respect to the situation of his house. The veneration 
in which he was universally held, caused people to call 
him by a round-about designation out of respect. 

Madhyageha Bhatta was neither a prodigy nor a 
recluse. He believed in the Smrities and Puranas and 
cordially adhered to the duties promulgated therein. 
He mainlined a house-hold on the lines laid down by 
law for a Hindu follower of Grihasthasrama. He 
minutely adhered to its duties, faithfully observed the 
fasts, performed the ceremonies, and scrupulously 
attended to guests; in short, he was an ideal house-hold- 
er of orthodox habits. In belief, as observed already, it 
does not appear that he was warm or enthusiastic over 
an Impersonal Brahman or an illusion-creating Maya. 
He had his doubts about monistic dogmas and he kept 
these doubts to himself. He believed in God and 
worshipped Him with genuine piety. 

This Brahmin was not a mendicant Vaidic, as 
might be supposed. He owned some lands which 
were tilled for him by tenants, kept bullocks and cows 
in his stall, and had enough to live upon as a respect- 
able villager. But his means did not keep him always 

II.] PARENTS AN1> BI&TR ■* 17 

above want. ! He was occasionally led into embarrass- 
ments that compelled him to incur monetary liabilities. 
Added to these petty troubles, poor Madhyageha 
had had to encounter some serious calamities. He 
had had two sons born, and both of them had died as 
infants. He had only a girl left. The strong convic- 
tion that salvation was out of the question without 
a son to perpetuate the lineage, bore down upon him 
like a night-mare, so much so, that he felt life to be an 
utter void, without male issue. From his village 
(Pajakakshetra) to Udupi, it was a walk of some hours, 
but he regularly repaired to the latter place to worship 
in the great temple of Ananteswara and pray for the 
blessing of a son. He prayed to the deity, day after day, 
for twelve long years, praying for an esteemed son 
endowed with divine qualities. He longed for a son 
as eminent as Parasurama, the founder of the 
Kshetras of the West Coast, and capable of command- 
ing the respect of Gods and men. A merciful Provid- 
ence listened to his earnest prayers and said " Amen." 
On a grand occasion when people had assembled in 
large numbers at the temple and were engaged in 
celebrating a festival, it being the half-yearly change 
of Solar equinox, a great announcement was made by 
a devotee. This man got to the top of the tall flag- 
staff pillar in front of the temple, and predicted, as one 
possessed, that by the grace of Ananteswara, Vayu 
would appear as an Avatar, ere long, amidst them, for 
purifying religion. 

This was indeed gratifying news. To Madhyageha, 
who understood the message as a reply to his ardent 
prayers, the annoucement was particularly gratifying. 
To all good people and true, the news was an assur- 
ance of better times about to come. For, as already 

' 3 


Stated, there was evidently unrest everywhere, a 
general feeling of vacuity in respect of God. The 
times seemed to demand with an insistance that 
compelled attention, with an earnestness that the 
Gods themselves could not ignore, that a Hero should 
be born, a hero capable of storming the old forts and 
citadels, and giving good men and true, peace and 
solace by a bloodless Reformation. 

Sriman Madhva Vijia says that the Gods them- 
selves appealed to Vishnu, who thereupon ordered his 
Bhakta, Vayu, to go down as an avatar and accom- 
plish the sacred mission. 

The belief is not uncommon, not only in India but 
in every country boasting of a revealed religion, that 
it is God that, in some mysterious way, inspires noble 
thoughts, words, and deeds, and that God occasionally 
presents himself in some mortal form to accomplish 
great ends by descending among men and giving a 
personal impetus to some mighty undertaking result- 
ing in a great upheaval of society or in some great 
turn or revolution in the affairs of humanity. Whether 
the Supreme God and His Ministers held a ''con- 
clave " in a meeting hall and passed resolutions with 
Parliamentary decorum or not, it may not admit of 
doubt to those that believe in the efficacy of prayer, that 
when men cry earnestly for a hero or saint, and a hero 
or saint does appear in their midst, they naturally take 
it that God sent him to them with the necessary 
inspiration to fulfill His Will. 

Mysterious indeed are the ways of Providence in 
choosing the instruments of His great purpose. Of 
all the learned men, why He chose Madhyageha 
Bhatta, and of all the places in the world, why He 


chose Paj&kakshetra, it is not perhaps given to mortal 
reason to discover. In choosing places and persons 
for His or their avatar, God and Devas show no 
partiality towards titled nobility and cities of palaces, 
and no bias against poverty and hamlets. They very 
often choose the poor and the humble, and love to 
dwell amongst them in the huts of a petty village. 
Sri Krishna did so, passing the period of His infantile 
years in rural scenes hidden from publicity, and 
appearing on the larger theatre in proper time to 
fulfil His purpose. 

The school of thinkers who rely on heredity as 
the only reasonable explanation for every phenomenon 
of organic evolution, will find it hard to account for 
Sri Madhva as the natural outcome and product of 
Madhyageha's brains, added, it may be, to the feeble 
intellect of his consort Vedavati. Those who decline 
to accept anything extraordinary or supernatural, who 
are sceptical about outbursts of genius, who account 
for everything and everybody by measures and 
standards derived from historical precedents, and who 
deal with history as a science by belittling great men 
as merely the creatures and products of circumstances 
and environments, will find it no easy task to trace 
the evolution of the great religious teachers that have 
revolutionised Indian Philosphical thought. 

Not only to the evolutionist and the scientific 
historian, but to all and sundry, it would be exceed- 
ingly interesting, of course, to know all about the 
personal history of Sri Madhva's parents, all about 
their status and occupation, their studies and grooves 
of thought, their religious and social world, in short, 
all about the life they led, so that it may be seen 
whether the birth and growth of Sri Madhva's genius 


could be accounted for from the human stand-point of 
heredity. 1 am, however, one of those that believe in 
great men as being a law unto themselves. I think 
heroes create circumstances and subdue their surround- 
ings rather than submit to be fashioned and shaped by 
them. They are no creatures and slaves thereof, but 
their masters. They make headway not because of, 
but very often in spite of, adventitious causes. 

To resume the thread of the narrative, Madhy- 
ageha had every reason to congratulate himself upon 
his good fortune, when the prospect of a son being 
born to him, became evident. He looked back upon 
the twelve long years he had spent in penance and 
prayer, and shed tears of gratitude that the boon 
was, after all, well-nigh within reach. Once, he 
had looked upon himself as a singularly unfortunate 
person by reason of the domestic bereavements he 
had had to suffer. He had changed his residence 
from Udupi to Pajakakshetra, probably for this rea- 
son, among others. Ill-luck seemed to be deserting 
him now, and he felt that he had reason to consider 
himself quite a happy man. 

If Pajakakshetra was, at this period, the forelorn 
village that it looks at present, Madhyageha would 
hardly have chosen it for his abode. No doubt, his 
lands were in the neigbourhood, but they were tilled 
by tenants. It is only under the aegis of Western 
Civilisation, that solitude is losing all its charms, and 
that rural life gravitates towards town life for one 
reason or another, with the inevitable result, that 
villages sink in importance and towns are greatly 
augmented in size. Our ancestors, however, pre- 
ferred the seclusion of hamlets, in order to pursue 


the eveii tenor of their way, far from the madding 
crowds' ignoble strife* 

But Pajakakshetra was not, however, an unin- 
habited jungle. There must have been a few houses 
in rows or clusters, in the middle of which, Madhy- 
ageha had his dwelling. His neighbour on the 
east, Poorvalaya, was evidently an obliging and 
estimable man. He had besides, a congenial society 
of friends and relations whom he entertained by 
Puranic recitals. Close to this village, there was a 
popular school-master whose tot was attended by 
numerous pupils. His residence was not far away. 
A well-known pond, known as Danda Theertha, 
still marks the scene of this school-master's labours. 
Anticipating our story a little, I may mention that 
Danda Theertha is believed to have been a gift of Sri 
Madhva to this village-teacher, in gratitude for the 
education he received in his tol. 

Furthermore, Pajakakshetra was a holy place. 
The vicinity of the hill known as Vimanagiri lent this 
village a great importance. On this hill, is situated 
the ancient temple dedicated to Goddess Durga. 
This temple is traced to Parasurama himself. Pooja 
is conducted on a grand scale in this pagoda. 
Festivals are celebrated on a costly style. 
Pajakakshetra situated at the foot of the hill, would 
natually have been the resort of a floating population 
drawn from every quarter, to witness the Car festival 
and other celebrations of the ancient Devasom. 

Besides the Durga temple, the four Theerthas 
of Parasurama, known as Parasu Theertha, Dhanus 
Theertha, Gada Theertha and Bana Theertha, are in 
the vicinity of this village, within the radius of a 


mile or two. These are ponds of sanctity largely 
resorted to by pilgrims. 

Thus, the Vimanagiri which stands against the 
sky as a treeless rock, looking, as its name imports, 
like a huge inverted canopy whose concave vault is 
hidden from view, was, by itself, a picturesque attrac- 
tion. The Durga temple perched on the top, was 
another. To crown all, there were the holy Theerthas 
round the hill. These features of attraction were 
sufficient to conjure up a Brahmin settlement in the 

In this hamlet of Pajakakshetra, Sri Madhva was 
born on the Vijia Desami Day of a Vilambi year. 
The corresponding year of Salivahana Saka, or of the 
Christian Calendar, will be discussed in a separate 
Chapter, as the point is involved in some confusion 
and obscurity. 

This great birth marked a red letter day in the 
village calendar, as it does in the Calendar of the 
Madhvas since. It was an occasion for general 
rejoicing. Madhyageha enjoyed the happiness of 
brotherly ties and fellowship, to an extent that is rare 
in the society of towns. When the drums, pipes, and 
cymbals, announced the happy news, the simple folk 
of the village flocked to Madhyageha's house to 
offer congratulations. The Bhatta himself had been 
absent from home at the time. When he hastened 
home at the call of the village music, he found himself 
the recipient of universal felicitations. 

Everybody looked at the baby and pronounced it 
wondrously beautiful. The radiant face of the little 
infant was lovely to behold. Some of the seers 
recalled to memory, the prediction at the temple of 


Ananteswara, and observed that the Superb face of the 
babe gave assurance of the prophecy being fulfilled. 
Every one of the villagers felt it a matter of personal 
pride and joy, that their revered Bhatta had thus 
become the donee of a divine boon. Friends and 
kinsmen hastened backwards and forwards with their 
good offices, and pressed Madhyageha to accept 
obligations. The eastern neighbour, Poorvalaya, gifted 
a milch-cow at once for the benefit of the new-born 
babe. The genuine cordiality that was manifest, was 
a sample of sincere fellow-ship of which the villagers 
were capable. It calls up a sigh of regret that in the 
so-called refinement of modern civilisation, society can 
hardly boast of such examples of simplicity and 

The orthodox believe that " Vayu " himself took 
incarnation as the infant son of Madhyageha. He was 
Hanuman, the Monkey-God, in Rama's avatar. He 
was Bheema in Sri Krishna's. Now he appeared 
again in Pajakakshetra as the third avatar, in order 
to propound and promulgate the teachings of Srimadr 

Thus began the red-letter day of Madhaygeha's 
house, of Pajaka village, and of the Madhva 
community soon to spring into existence. This avatar 
added one more link to the sanctified memories 
associated with this locality, for, in the light of 
subsequent events, every true M&dhva values the 
spot where the Master was born, as the holiest of 
the holy shrines in India. 

The pilgrim that visits the place Is shown the 
birthplace of the great Teacher. It consists of a 
poor-looking room, whose roof probably consisted 


oi thatch in those days. Pious charity has now 
replaced the roof with slabs of stone and metal, 
laid out well In order to prevent decay and dese- 
cration, one of the eight ascetics of Udupi, viz., the 
Swarni of Kanoor Mutt, has included the house in 
question within an enclosure of substantial building 
erected around so as to protect and preserve the 
shrine of SH Madhva's birth quite intact. 

A small temple adjoins these buildings. Herein, 
there is the imprint of two feet visible on a slanting 
floor of rock. These are worshipped as the feet of 
the Guru. This constitutes the chief memorial that 
perpetuates the recollection of his nativity. It must 
be admitted that posterity has not shown over-much 
of enthusiasm in the matter of memorials, for, the 
temple referred to is small and poor-looking, and no 
expenditure worthy of the cause, seems to have 
been incurred for purposes of commemoration. 

A description of this locality is not complete 
without a reference to the tank known as Vasudeva 
Theertha. It has a history of its own. Tradition 
says that when Sri Madhva was a mere boy, he 
sanctified it as a Theertha for the benefit of his father. 
On a certain occasion, it is said that Madhyageha 
found it hard to go round the Parasurama's 
Theerthas as was his custom, because the day 
happened to be a very short Dwadasi. Boy Vasudeva 
then made the tank in question as sacred as all the 
other Theerthas put together. When the assertion 
of Vasudeva on the subject was received with 
scepticism, Vasudeva promptly pulled up a small 
Aswatha tree by the root, and planted it root 
upwards. He pledged his word that the tree would 

hi.] date or am madhva, *$ 

grow and thrive, if fed with the water, of the new 
Theertha. Tradition asserts that the test was so 
successful as to inspire faith. This tree is still alive 
and may be seen not far from the tank. 

These episodes and many others crowd into our 
memory as we stand on the spot and reflect. Peace 
and tapas reign supreme in the place- In the solitude, 
the pilgrim feels the bracing atmosphere of piety and 
holiness. Among the ideas associated with the 
locality, a feeling of awe and reverence dominates in the 
pilgrim's mind. If devotionally inclined, he thinks it 
possible that the dust of Sri Madhva's feet might be 
still hovering over the floor, and he prays it might 
purify and save him. 

Date of Sri Madhva. 
The date of Sri Madhva's birth is not free from 
doubt and controversy. The District Manual of South 
Canara fixes 1199 A.D. as the correct date. This 
view seems primarily based on the enquiry of Buchan- 
an, who travelled through Mysore, Canara, and 
Malabar, in or about 1799, and published a large 
volume about his travels. It seems that Buchanan 
gathered all the leading Pandits at Udupi and got 
the information about the date, Mr. C. N. Krishna- 
swamy Iyer too adopts the same conclusion. He 
bases it on the authority of Sriman Mahabarata 
Tatparya Nirnaya, Chapter XXXII, verse 131, and 
Chapter IX, verse 100. These verses look as if the 
author (Sri Madhvacharya himself) has given the 
date of his birth as 4300 of Kali Yuga, which corres- 
ponds to 1199 A. U 


^ The genealogical lists maintained in the Uttara4i 
Mutt and other Matarns, show that the Guru was 
either born or became a Sanyasi in Vilambi in 1040 
Saka, (i.e. 1118 A.D.) and disappeared from the 
earthly scene of his labours in Saka 1120 Pingala 
(A.D. 1 198). It is true that the Matam List is long 
and minute, entering into great details about the 
Jovian year, month, and date, with corresponding Saka 
year also. It records the date of accession to the 
Pontifical seat of the respective Matathipathis, and 
the year, and place, of Brindavan, of every ascetic, 
down to modern times. 

Among the scholars that have adopted the Matam 
date, may be mentioned Aufrecht, the auther of 
"the Catalogus Catalagorum '' which is a sort of 
Encyclopaedia of Oriental information, and Dr. 
Ramakrishna Bhandarkar, the well-known Sanskrit 
Scholar of Bombay. Both of them adopt and publish 
the date of the Matam List as the most authentic 
record on the subject. Mr. Subba Rao, m. a., of the 
Salem College, considers it almost a sacrilege to doubt 
the authenticity of the Matam List. He argues that 
1040 Saka, Vilambi, is the year in which the Guru 
became a sanyasin. He is supposed to have been 
12 or 16 years old at the time, and therefore it is said, 
that he was born in 1025 or 1029 Saka (1103 or 1109 
A. D.). Mr. Subba Rao makes no reference to the 
texts relied on by Mr. C. N. Krishnaswamy Iyer 
He thinks 1199 A. D. is the first anniversary of the 
Guru's departure, and that, by some confusion, it was 
mistaken for the date of birth. 

Prima facie, one would certainly feel convinced on 
the strength of the Matam List, and the onus would 
be laid very heavily on anybody that questioned its 


soundness. There are, however, certain points that 
bewilder the enquirer and cast a doubt on the point. 

Dr. Bhandarkar notes that, among the Matam 
Lists that he saw, the oldest contained no Saka date at 
all, but the Jovian years alone, such as, Vilambi, Pingala, 
Rakthakshi &c. The corresponding Saka date is 
the result of a recent conjecture and calculation. 

Aufrecht's views are notoriously faulty on many 
a point, and especially so with reference to Sri 
Madhva. It has been already pointed out that he 
confounds Ananda Theertha with Ananda Giri, and 
credits our Guru with the authorship of well-known 
Advaita Text Books. It is a wonder who furnished 
information to Aufrecht for his "Catalogus Catalo- 

From the above, it muy be seen that, roughly 
speaking, 1199 A.D. and 11 03 A. D. are the two dates 
somewhat influentially supported by well-balanced 
cogency of reasoning. 

Recent Archaeological discoveries tend to show 
that these dates are all wrong. Sri Madhva had four 
pflpils (out of many) who came to the Pontifical seat 
after him, one after another. They are Padmanabha 
Theertha, Narahari Theertha, Madhava Theertha 
and Akshobya Theertha. These were contemporaries 
of Sri Madhva, were ordained Sanyasins at his 
hands, and studied under him. Padmanabha 
Theertha was Pontiff for seven years, Narahari 
Theertha for nine years, Madhava Theertha for 
seventeen years, and Akshobhya Theertha for seven- 
teen years. It is important to note that the interval 
between Sri Madhva's departure and Narahari 
Theertha's succession is only seven years* This 
Narahari Theertha had a very eventful career. 


Hfe belonged to Chicacole in Ganjam. His father 
was evidently a Minister of the King that reigned in 
l£?i|inga. Narahari Theertha, after he became a 
panyasin, acted as Regent for many years, during 
the minority of the King. We find that inscriptions 
ranging from 1186 Saka, to 12 15 Saka, exist in the 
temple of Sri Koorma in Chicacole and Simhachalam 
in Vizagapatam. These inscriptions are very clear 
and testify in eloquent terms to the rule of Narahari 
Theertha and the good work he did in his own State 
and in the neighbouring country. One inscription 
(1203 Saka) is very suggestive. It consists of nine 
Sanskrit verses which have been deciphered and 
translated by the Archaeological Department. The 
rendering is to the following effect. (The purport 
alone is given below.) 

Verse r : — The pious ascetic Purushottama was 
born to instruct the wise. He was the chosen favour- 
ite of Vishnu. 

Verse 2 : — His words commanded universal res- 
pect. His reasoning subdued disputants, as the goad 
does elephants. 

Verse 3:— Anantha Theertha received ordination 
at his hands. It was he that brought back the stray- 
ing cows of Vyasa into the fold, by means of the 
ascetic's staff he wielded. 

Verse 4 : — His words were dear to Vishnu and 
were calculated to confer Heaven. 

Verse 5 : — His holy precepts enabled men to 
reach the lotus-feet of Hari. 

Verse 6 : — Narahari Theertha received lessons 
under him and ruled in Kalinga* 

Verse 7 ; — Narahari Theertha fought the S&bar&fc 
in battle and protected the Sri Koorma teihple. 


Vwm £:-**Narahari Theertha was of great prowess. 

Ferm g :— " Hall ! In the prosperous Saka year 
joined with the fires (3) the Sky (o) the pair (2) and 
the earth (t) (i.e. in 1503) in the month of Mesha, on 
the day of the moon-crested Siva in the bright fort- 
night and on an excellent Wednesday, having built a 
temple in front of the Lord Kamata, consecrated 
therein, with pleasure, this god Yogananda Narasimha, 
the bestower of bliss." 

Professor Keilhorn interprets the date mentioned 
herein as 29th March 1281 A.D. the week-day being 
Saturday. The Sanskrit word might be " Sourer " 
instead of " Soumye f \ 

The date of the inscription is in conflict with the 
theories noted above, Mr. Subba Rao's, and 
Mr. Krishnaswamy Iyer's. If Narahari Theertha was 
engaged in Chicacole in 1 203 Saka, he must have 
joined Sri Madhva some years later. But according 
to Mr. Subba Rao, Sri Madhva disappeared in 11 20 
Saka and Narahari Theertha died in 1135 Saka. 
According to Mr. Iyer's dates, Narahari Theertha 
could not have been in Chicacole or Simhachalam in 
1203, 1 2 14 and 12 15, the dates of the several inscrip- 
tions in his name. 

Mr. Subba Rao does not deem it necessary to 
offer an explanation about the inscriptions. Mr. Iyer 
says he is not prepared to accept the inscription dates 
in preference to the Nirnaya Texts referred to above* 

It may be remembered that the great Vidyaranya 
of Sringeri Monastery was a minister of the Vijianagar 
King, Bukka 1, the founder of that dynasty. Vidya- 
ranya got a grant in Saka 1268 for his Sringeri Mutt. 
Thus the period of Vidyaranya is beyond doubt* 


VMy&Fanya's contemporary 1 was the great Sri 
^aishaavacharya, Vedanta Desikar. Authentic history 
assigns September 1268 A.D. (Saka 11 30) as the date 
pf his birth, and he lived for about 108 years. It is 
recorded in Vedanta Desika Vaibhava Prabhavam, 
page 70, that on a certain occasion a great controversy 
occurred between Vidyaranya on the one hand and 
Akshobhya Muni the fourth disciple of Sri Madhva- 
charya on the other, over the import of Thathvamasi 
(SRWi%).. A reference to arbitration being suggested, 
the Vijianagar King referred the matter to Vedanta 
Desikar of Srirangam, whose decision was sent in 
favour of Akshobhya Muni. This episode rests on 
tradition as well as on the disinterested record in the 
Desika Vaibhava Prakasika. It is therefore beyond 
doubt that Akshobhya Theertha was a contemporary of 
Vedanta Desikar and Vidyaranya. Jayatheertha 
Vvjia refers to Jayatheerthacharya, our great com- 
mentator, as having come in contact with Vidyaranya. 
The date adopted by Mr. Subba Rao makes all this a 
veritable impossibility. According to Mr. Subba Rao 
and the Matam List, Akshobhya died in 1169 Saka 
(1247 A.D.) long before Vedanta Desikar was born and 
longer still before Vidyaranya's birth. 

There can be no doubt that Sri Madhva was born 
or became a Sanyasi in a certain Vilambi, and that his 
departure was in a certain Pingala. The question is, 
which Vilami and which Pingala ? 

Vilambi fell in 1040 Saka (11 18 A.D.) 
1 100 Saka (11 78 A.D.) 
1 160 Saka (1238 A.D.) 

Pingala fell in 1119 Saka (1197 A.D.) 
1179 Saka (1258 A.D.) 
1239 Saka (13.17 A.D.) 

Of these, by pushing forward the date of the Matam 
List by i»o y^ars or two cycles, if we take the Pingaia, 
viz. 1317 A. D. as the date of the Guru's departure, it 
fits in exactly with Narahari Theertha's history and 
Akshobhya Theertha's episode as a contemporary of 
Vidyaranya and Vedanta Desika. 

It seems impossible at this distance of time and 
with the somewhat meagre materials available, to fix 
the period with certainty. In making a conjecture, 
there seems no good reason to reject Pingaia 13 17 A.D., 
as the probable date of the Guru's departure. Mr. Subba 
Rao thinks that if Narahari Theertha resigned the 
Regency in 1203 Saka (or 1281 A.D.) he must have 
lived fifty three years after that period, since he became 
Pontiff in the next Rakthakshi which is 1324 A. D., 
and died, Srimuka 1333 A.D. The fallacy in this 
reasoning is that he resigned the Regency in 1203 Saka. 
His inscriptions carry him at least till 1215 Saka. 
It is impossible to say in what year he resigned and in 
what year he turned up with the images of Rama and 
Sita before Sri Madhva. There is no ground for the 
belief that whether he resigned or not in 1281 A.D. 
he could not have lived 53 years after 1281 A.D. 

Mr. Subba Rao lays some stress on Vidyaranya 
quoting from Jaya Theertha's commentaries. He thinks 
that an interval of 100 years at least, should have 
elapsed before the new system could have become 
sufficiently important for a notice and review in Vidya- 
ranya's " Sarva Darsana Sangraha." This is pure 
conjecture based on very feeble legs. Akshobhya and 
his disciple Jaya Theertha were contemporaries of 
Vidyaranya. A hot controversy had occurred. Vidya- 
ranya had come face to face with the new faith and 
struggled to arrest its growing popularity. His G«ro 


$jtftatt Theertlm, and the tetter's Guru/Vidya S^pkara 
ljtiBi$fe!f bad tried hard to achieve the same end. There- 
fore Vidyaranya had had occasion to study the Texts 
c?f the Poorna Pragna System, for he had rubbed 
shoulders with Akshobhya. Hence, it is no wonder 
that he quotes from Jaya Theertha's works, contempo- 
rary as the latter was. 

Now a word about the internal evidence, if any, in 
Madhva Vijia. In Chapter X, it is stated that Sri 
Madhva met a Maharashtra King, Iswara Deva, who 
tried to force the Guru to do some personal service. 
Who is this Iswara Deva of the Maharashtra country? 
One Mahadeva was King of Deogiri, Daulatabad, from 
A.D. 1260 to 1 271. This was a Yadava King who 
held sway sometime before the Mahomedan Bhamini 
Kingdom overthrew that dynasty in A.D. 1347. The 
list of sovereigns contains no Iswara Deva duringthe 
period which Mr. Subba Rao assigns to Sri Madhva. 

I had the advantage of discussing the point in 
May 1908 at Udupi with the leading Pandits of the 
place in the presence of His Holiness, the Swami of 
Adhamar Mutt. In the course of the discussion, other 
fantastic dates were also mentioned, as culled from 
Yayu Purana, and from another unknown source. 
These consisted of Sanskrit verses which professed 
to name the exact date of the Acharya's birth and 
Sanyasa. In the Vayu Purana, fik Magha budha of 
Vifamtri, said to have been a Sunday, was recorded 
as the birth-day. The verses referred to as from the 
unknown source, fixed Vijia Dasami of a Vilambi, said 
t» have been a Wednesday, as the birth-day. In 
these, it was stated that Sri Madhva had his upa- 
nayana in the fifth year and sanyasa in the eleventh. 
It was feirther recorded that Sri Madhva went on his 

first tour to Badari seven years after his renunciation* 
It was a pity that the authority on which all this 
information was based was declared unknown. It 
was an anonymous extract. 

A copy of the statement which Mr. Buchanan 
refers to as having been made to him in 1799 A. D. 
was also available. This paper fixed 1199 A.D. as 
the true date. On examination, it was found that it 
quoted no authority (Prnmana) as its basis. 

On a consideration of all the reasons pro and con, 
His Holiness the Swami of Adhamar Mutt and the 
Pandits were of opinion that the date suggested by, and 
in conformity to, the inscriptions was the most accept- 
able of all. 



It is a sport of the Gods that when they choose 
to be born among men, they behave like men, not 
forgetting or omitting to display even the faults and 
foibles of humanity, at times. Sri Madhva was no 
exception to this rule of the Gods. He appeared as a 
human infant, wept aloud, hungered for milk, and 
mimicked all the frolics of new-born babies. 

After the usual period of ten days during which 
the confinement room was strictly private, the 
ceremony of name-giving was celebrated with 
considerable eclat, the child being named ' Vasudeva*. 
It is not improbable that one of the names of Sri 
Krishna was advisedly chosen. < Hindus dpte on Sri 
Krishna with peculiar fondness, and love to call a 


pet child by that beloved name. To parents who 
have longed ardenly for issue, and attained their wish 
at last, Sri Krishna is a name of peculiar endearment, 
for in that word, is condensed a whole volume of 

It is also probable that Madhyageha being a 
Pandit of erudion, did not overlook the circumstance 
that ' Vasudeva ' in one of its etymological imports, 
connotes God Vayu of Universal Knowledge, and 
therefore, that the designation was no more than what 
the child literally deserved. 

Madhyageha and his wife never felt themselves 
sufficiently thankful to Anantheswara for the price- 
less treasure they had obtained. They deemed it 
one of their very first duties to take the baby to the 
temple and pay respects to the deity. They brooked 
not a moment's delay beyond what was absolutely 
necessary for the health of the mother. 

As soon as the mother was fit, no time was lost in 
arranging a trip to Udupi for the purpose. A large 
party of friends and relations accompanied Madhya- 
geha on this occasion. The temple was reached, and 
the offerings of Pooja were duly submitted. When 
the party started from Udupi on the return journey, it 
was evidently late in the evening. 

Though the distance to Pajakakshetra is not 
great, acccording to modern notions, the way lies 
through a trackless jungle. For miles around, there 
is no cart-track even now. The travellers therefore 
had to perform the journey on foot, right through. 
The difficulties of a nocturnal walk through the wind- 
ing ups and downs of a rugged forest, were materially 
* added to, by the terrors of superstition. 


When the men, women, and children were passing 
through the thickets of a certain spot, it was the 
unearthly hour of midnight. It isi said that an evil 
spirit haunting the woods obstructed their progress. 
It announced through the lips of one ' possessed \ 
that they had incurred a great risk by attempting to 
pass through such a jungle at such a belated hour, 
and that if the child were not what he was viz., a 
divine avatar, it (the demon), would have made short 
work of the baby. The incident caused every one to 
shiver with fright. They blamed themselves for their 
temerity in incurring such a risk. But there was a 
silver lining to the clouds. The demon was evidently 
afraid of the child. It said that 'Vasudeva' was no 
ordinary mortal. Hence their darling was incapable 
of being hurt. This was indeed joyful news. The 
party hastened their steps and reached their village 
In safety > full of thankfulness to God for the narrow 
escape they had had from a great danger. 

Time wore on. Vasudeva grew, day by day, a 
veritable picture of glowing health and cheer. The 
ailments that so often render babyhood miserable, 
were quite unkown in his case. The extraordinary 
good looks of the little boy gave early promise of the 
charming man that was going to be. Learned men 
saw in the child, glimpses of all the thirty-two 
attributes that the sacred books speak of as making 
up the perfection of the human form. There was on 
the curly forehead, a charm that was destined, in the 
fulness of years, to grow into a personal magnetism 
which was simply irresistible. Every day gave proofs 
of an intellectual precocity that was quite marvellous. 
People clapped their hands, and exclaimed in surprise 
that they had seen children enough, but none like thi§ 
precocious darling. 


., The unusual health and strength of Vasudeva is 
illustrated by an incident that occurred when he was 
not more than a year old. One day, his mother had 
to leave him at home and go somewhere to attend to 
an urgent duty. She left Vasudeva in charge of his 
elder sister, with strict injunctions to look after him 
with the utmost attention and care. As soon as the 
fond mother turned her back on him, and was beyond 
earshot, he began to cry. The girl tried her best to 
soothe him, in vain. He set up such a big howl that 
all her efforts proved of no avail. Finding that there 
was no possibility of making him calm down, she took 
him to a quantity of boiled horsegram, and allowed 
him to eat it. Vasudeva took to it with a greedy 
appetite and refused to desist until the whole quantity 
was exhausted. It was far larger in quantity than a 
bullock could digest. But he was not happy till he 
had consumed every grain of the heap, and stopped 
howling only after the hearty repast was fully over. 

Shortly after this extraordinary dinner, the mother 
returned home and learned what had happened. Her 
dismay could be better imagined than described. She 
rebuked the girl for her folly, accused herself of neglect, 
and ended by fretting and foaming beyond measure. 
But Vasudeva was quite cheerful, and there was 
nothing at all the matter with him. He kept playing 
about as if nothing had happened. One day passed 
after another, and yet no signs of the apprehended 
indigestion appeared at all. 

Another incident, equally remarkable, is related 
of Vasudeva, as having occurred about the same time. 
It furnishes a demonstration of the great pluck and 
daring that formed a marked feature in the later life 
of the Master. One day, the boy suddenly disappear- 
ed from home* Nobody had noticed him and none 

tV,] ' CHILDHOOD- 37 

could trace him out. The parents were naturally 
distracted, and went about searching. The villagers 
joined in the search, and looked for him in every 
direction. Their quest was fruitless for hour$. At 
last they met the child coming along merrily, hanging 
from the tail of an intractable bull. On his counte- 
nance, there was no fear and no fatigue. The truth 
was, he had set out with the bull in the morning, by 
holding to its tail, and had held on thus all day long 
in the course of its wild peregrinations. 

When the searching party came upon this novel 
scene, a ferocious bull with a puny boy suspended to 
the tail, their first thought was one of concern and 
alarm. But a closer view dispelled anxiety, as 
Vasudeva was beaming with smiles, and was evidently 
enjoying the fun. They caught hold of him, hugged 
him to their bosoms, and brought him home recounting 
his exploit, on the way, to the villagers. 

At this time, Vasudeva was moving about freely on 
hands and knees. In due course, he picked up walking. 
It was then hard to control him in his activities and 
wanderings. An open country lay before him with 
the hill and the temple on the top, and virgin forest 
everywhere. Vasudeva had unbounded energy and 
vigour, which he availed himself of, for restless activity* 
Not that he gave trouble to anybody or did mischief 
by indulging in harmful pranks. He was always 
roaming about, ever active and genial, and full of 
animal spirits, 

By his own observation, and by perpetual enquir- 
ing which included a close cross examination such as 
precocious childern alone are capable of, he seemed to 
be making wonderful progress itt 'nature study*, having 
his wits keenly alive to note every phenomenon and 

^MeWlm that he mm® in tmtaat <WH& 
m feehaving, and getting m like a ftfitttfsK 
aftd showing himself a prodigy at tiitte% 
eva startled the village, one day, by a miracle as 
*iiitended to remind the people who he was. The 
^toifeovef leaf gives a rough idea of this episode. 

*|r? tk fiafe already been mentioned that Madhyageha 
IttlBftta suffered occasional embarrassments from want 
W litottey* On one of these occasions, a persistent 
Ifi^ditor came to his house and sat ' Dharna ' at his 
ioor. It i^as a common practice in India for creditors 
to lit at the door of the debtor, and reluse to move 
SMI the debt was* repaid. The creditor would take 
ip food or driftk, nor would he allow the debtor to do 
ity» or go about his business. With the Sowcar thus 
fbting at the door, it was out of the question for the 
Igebtar to take his food and be merry. No Hindu is 
^afj^bie of such a flagrant violation of hospitality, 
flence, compelled by the creditor and compelled by the 
t&ws of hospitality ingrained in his nature, the debtor 
Wjould promptly repay, by resorting to some desperate 
resource. This kind of collecting debts, known as 
J Dtiarna f became obsolete after the Penal Code am| 
4$t$ Civil Courts Act took firm root in this couuj^ 
lUftances of Dharna in a mild form are not stilt tin- 
■pptoitm in remote and out*of-the~way corners. It was a 
Receive process that was more speedy and effectual 
^d4q decrees and executions. 

Madhyageha happened to be entangled in a diffi- 
JnMtf 4& *W» kind. His Sowcar was a great dunner. 
*H%H* #h# feour for his ablutions and dinner, but the 
4 0hfr$f # pressed on him and k% could not escape from 
hfa creditor* He could think $f no resources immedi- 
ately ayai|#ble to get him out of the scrape. When 

No i. 
" He received the payment, delighted beyond measure "— P, 31;. 


he was thus in a fix and racking his brain for a solution 
of the difficulty, Vasudeva came bounding up to him in 
blissful ignorance and innocence, and asked him 
(Madhyageha) to go in for dinner as it was late already. 
Madhyageha evaded the child by some pretext ot 
other, but the intelligent Vasudeva was not to be 
brushed aside so lightly. He pressed his father again 
and again, until at last the latter had to address the 
child, saying, u Dear. I owe money to this creditor 
as the price of a bullock bought of him, and he insists 
on immediate payment ; you better go and have your 
meals. I shall take my food latter on, after he is 

Vasudeva left his father, realising the situation, 
and promptly made up his mind how to act. He went 
round the house and beckoned to the Sowcar to go 
with him. The Sowcar did so. Whoever set eyes 
on Vasudeva's face was powerless to resist his mag- 
netism They went to a shaded place beyond the 
tank now known as Vasudeva Theertha, and stood 
under a big tree. Vasudeva picked up in the hollow 
ot both hands joined together, a quantity of tamarind 
seeds, and poured them into the Sowcar's hands. At 
first, the Sowcar probably took it as fun, and was not 
disinclined to have a little sport with the radiant boy. 
To his unutterable surprise, he observed that the seeds 
had turned out to be coins amounting to a full 
discharge of the dues He received the payment, 
delighted beyond measure. Vasudeva quickly left the 
scene, and ran home unseen by his father. The 
Sowcar returned to Madhygeha and told him that he 
was free, because the boy had repaid the debt in full. 

The news of this event evidently created a pro- 
found impression at the time. The exact spot where 


it occured, is, even now, pointed out to gilgrims with 

There are of course various shades of opinion re- 
garding miracles in general, and this one in particular. 
Some people consign it to the limbo of the mythical 
Madhva, and would give it no room in a history 
of the Guru's life. They relegate everything superna- 
tural to the region of fiction, and this one too, 
consistently enough. Others think that even if the 
story be an exaggeration in the form in which it is 
presented, there must be a foundation at the bottom, 
and a substratum of truth underneath. They try hard 
to separate the underlying fact from the suspected 
overgrowth of fiction. They find it difficult to brush 
aside, as wholly fictitious, a story narrated by the 
earliest authentic chronicle on the subject, and 
suppoted by a i chain of unbroken and unimpeachable 
tradition. Is it possible that Madhyageha had no 
debt at all to pay, or that he paid it out of his own 
resources, and invented a story to glorify his son ! Is 
it possible as a third alternative that Pandit Narayana 
created the fiction out of his head, and if so, why 
did he do so ? These are hard nuts to crack. 

There is another section of people, the srictly 
orthodox, who believe in every word of the narration. 
These refuse to judge of Avatara Purushas, such as 
Sri Madhva was, by the rules and precedents of 
ordinary mundane life. 

It is out of the question to attempt any contro- 
versy or argument with the Positivists -and 
Scientists who will listen to nothing beyond the limitted 
horizon of human consciousness and experiences, 
and who insist on every assertion being mathe- 
matically demonstrated. They are perfectly right and 


reasonable in their attitude. No science can progress 
unless this principle and procedure is firmly adhered 
to, as fundamental. 

But the purview of religion and that of philosophy 
is broader and more comprehensive. There are more 
things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in 
science strictly so-called. In the life of religious and 
moral leaders, scores of striking incidents are narrated. 
In the life of Sri Sankara, Sri Ramanuja, and Sri 
Madhva, there are numerous episodes of this nature. 
The orthodox members of each sect accept the 
miracles of their own Guru as literally true, and reject 
those of other Gurus, as figments of imagination. 
Occultism which seems to be the fashionable name and 
garb for old orthodoxy to assume, if it cares for a 
hearing, is paving the way for the acceptance of many 
a singular phenomenon beyond the pale of gazetted 
text-books of science. 


Boyhood up to Upanayana. 

The town of Udupi is a sea-port of the Arabian 
Sea which forms the western boundary of Southern 
India. Most of the places with which Sri Madhva's 
history is concerned in South Canara, are coast-towns 
of the Arabian Sea. The trunk road from Malabar 
runs right through, to Condapoor, touching Kasargod, 
Kumbla, Manjeshwar, Ullal, Mangalore, Udupi, and 
other places. This road runs parallel to the sea-shore 
and at such a distance of it, as to command a view of 
the sea, in most places. 

For a clear understanding of the episode relat- 
ed below, it is necessary to explain, a little, the 


geography of the villages adjoining Udupi. From the 
sea-shore to Udupi is a distance roughly of about 
three miles from west to east. Within a mile from 
Udupi, there is a village known as Bannanje or 
Thalekooda, with a Siva temple adjoining the modern 
public road. As we proceed to the west, to a distance 
of a mile or so, we reach the village of Koduvooru, 
where there is an ancient and somewhat imposing 
Devasom dedicated to Sankara-Narayana. The popu- 
lar name of this deity is Kanangi or Kanana Devata, 
God of the Forest. Very probably, the surrounding 
country was a dense forest in the old days, and the 
deity of the temple, was the presiding God of the 
forest. There is now a pretty settlement of Brahmins 
forcing an Agraharam with two rows of neat houses 
separated by a broad street leading to the big gate-way 
of the temple. 

Just to the east of the Kanana Devata, a narrow 
road runs to the north, parallel to the Condapoor-road 
already mentioned. Of the villages reached by this 
path, I may mention Nediyooru situated about five or 
six miles north of Udupi. Neyampalli is another 
village in the neighbourhood, about three miles from 
Udupi, on the Condapoor road. 

Madhyageha's wife, Vedavati, had her parents' 
house very probably in Neyampalli or Nediyooru. 
She certainly had relations in both. The occasions 
for visiting her relations in these two villages, seem to 
have been frequent, as is usual in village life. For, 
villagers, as a rule, set special store by a punctilious 
observance of social duties, and seldom tolerate a 
breach, without sufficient cause. In Nediyooru, a 
great festivity took place once, for which Madfeyageha 
amd his wife had been invited. They attended the 


festivity with their children including, of course, boy 
Vasudeva. He was probably about three years old, at 
this time, well able to walk. 

When the festivity was in progress, there was 
great bustle, and considerable confusion, as the result 
of numerous guests having arrived, and everybody 
being busy unpacking and settling down in some 
accomodation hastily provided. There was, of course, 
endless receiving and greeting, going on between 
friends and relations that met presumably after 
separations of longer or shorter duration. When 
Madhyageha and his wife were thus engaged, Vasudeva 
had been probably entrusted to his elder sister or had 
been neglected altogether Taking advantage of Jfehe 
prevailing confusion, he slipped unnoticed from the 
festive house, and took the narrow road leading south- 
wards to Kanana Devata in Koduvooru. He had to 
walk a mile or two, but he did not mind. Arriving at 
this temple, he boldly entered the shrine as well as the 
sanctum sanctorum, and offered worship to Vishnu. 
After staying sometime in this pagoda, he started from 
there, and proceeded towards Udupi, instead of re- 
tracing his steps homeward. On his way to Udupi, 
he stopped at the temple of Bannanje, and worshipped 
Hari, the indweller of the Lingam therein. This over, 
he marched dauntlessly onward to the * Chandra 
Mbuleswara ' temple of Udupi, and thence to that of 

Meanwhile, the festivity having engaged all the 
attention of Madhyageha and his wife, for a time, they 
did not discover the absence of Vasudeva. Suddenly,, 
they bethought themselves of the missing boy, a®4 
be^ui to search for him. They heartily cursed thenar 
selves f(M their folly in having neglected himy but m 


amount of worry and vexation was of any avail, under 
the circumstances. The guests that had gathered, and 
all the other people interested in Madhyageha, were 
apprised of what had occurred. Every one felt it as a 
personal loss, inasmuchas Vasudeva was a general 
favourite. The news passed from mouth to mouth, 
that the glorious boy of Pajakakshetra was missing. 
The proceedings of the feast were suspended, and the 
people searched for Vasudeva in every direction. 

After a long search, one of the parties came upon 
the urchin just emerging from the temple of Anan- 
teswara in Udupi. He had performed what was 
almost a miracle for his age. They caught hold of the 
little vagabond and questioned him. There he stood, 
radiant and cheerful, his face beaming with happiness 
and sunny with rippling smiles. They asked him 
" Darling. You are so young. Who escorted you on 
this perilous journey? " The reply given was charac- 
teristic. He responded gloriously in a joyous vein. 
"Why, Sankara-Narayana escorted me to Bannanjey. 
Sri Hari of that temple guided my steps to the east 
temple of Udupi yonder, and that deity brought me 
hither. I travelled not alone and unescorted." The 
earnestness with which the boy spoke, conveyed the 
assurance, that an Invisible Providence had taken 
shape and led the child from place to place. "Who 
knows", the men would have exclaimed, "but that it 
may be true ! " The boy did not look as if he had lost 
the way or suffered any difficulty or trouble in his 
rambles. He felt happy as if his father or mother had 
walked him quietly, holding his fingers. When the 
question was put to him, the reply came with readiness. 
On his part, there was no consciousness of having 
done wrong. He looked as if he had behaved in the 


most natural manner, and had innocently followed the 
steps of an elderly guide. 

The men were at their wits' end to realise what 
had happened in fact. Some of them indulged in 
fantastic conjectures. Others pondered over the words 
of the boy and tried to fathom their true significance. 
Every one put his own interpretation, in accordance 
with his own ideas of, a ad beliefs in, supernatural 

Vasudeva was soon restored to his parents, and 
the suspended animation of the festivity gave room 
for redoubled joy. 

It is said by some critics, that this story of Sri 
Madhva's childhood-flight to temples, bears a resem- 
blance to an anecdote ot the same kind found in the 
Bible. It is therefore argued that this story proves 
the influence of Christianity on the teachings of Sri 
Madhva. To my mind, the argument is somewhat 
difficult to follow. The question is whether Sri 
Madhva took any leaf from Christian books in 
formulating his views of religion and philosophy. The 
answer depends on an examination of his teachings 
as recorded in his works. Sri Madhva left no 
autobiography recounting his boyhood-flight to the 
temple as an exploit of his. If anybody invented the 
tale, it must be his biographer Narayana Pandit. If 
Sri Madhva did not concoct the episode, how can it 
serve as a peg on which to hang an argument to the 
effect that he committed plagiarism of Christian tenets 
and doctrines. As for Pandit Narayana having come 
under Christian influence, there is no evidence what- 
soever of any sort or kind in support of it. He must 
have possessed a highly diseased intellect to pitch 
upon a tale of this kind to borrow for the purpose of 


enhancing Sri Madhva's glory. What proof is there to 
show that the Pandit ever came under Christian 
influence or possessed any acquaintance with its 
teachings ? Such a surmise is so baseless as not to be 
a reasonable conjecture. 

To return from the digression, the parents of 
Vasudeva felt very thankfal to God for the restoration 
of the boy. It is no exaggeration to say that they 
loved their son with all their heart and with all their 
soul. Vasudeva remained entwined in and among the 
tendrils of their heart, so intimately and so thoroughly, 
that to be parted from him meant plucking the heart 
itself from their body. 

Having stayed in Nediyooru as long as social 
etiquette required, they returned home with Vasudeva. 
From this time forward, it was becoming evident that 
Vadudeva was developing a peculiar partiality to 
temples and solitudes. While he largely indulged in 
childish sports and pranks appropriate to his age, 
those who watched him closely, observed that he took 
long rambles among the Vimanagiri rocks, and 
rejoiced to be left alone in the temple of Durga, He 
evinced a decided leaning towards devotional worship 
even at this tender age. He was fond of withdrawing 
himself from home and children's company, and 
repaired to places of sanctity and worship. He 
, selected the slopes of the hill, even as resorts for play 
and games. He had no objection to be left alone, as if 
Goddess Durga herself was sufficient company to be 
engaged with in play. 

Vasudeva's parents were not shrewd enough to 
observe this particular tendency. They let him have 
pretty much his own way as to his likes and dislikes^ 


and allowed no solicitude to tamper with or disttiit) 
the full measure of the happiness they enjoyed. 

In this state of unalloyed bliss, time passed with- 
out anybody noticing its flight. No incident occurred 
for a time worthy of note. Day by day, Vasudeva 
proved by his remarkable intelligence, that he was 
qualified to begin literary studies, earlier than other 
children of average capacity. Madhyageha perceived 
the force of his claim and fixed an early day for 
initiating Vasudeva into the mysteries of the 

When the day arrived, Madhyageha's house was 
the scene of considerable bustle, owing to the festivity 
marking the occasion. Presumably, the inevitable 
gathering of kith and kin flocked to his house to see 
the urchin introduced into the world of the literate. 
In well-lo-do society, Aksharabhyasam, i.e., com- 
mencement of education, is a gala occasion, in which 
presents are made to the boy, and social ameni- 
ties exchanged. When the assembly had gathered 
in Madhyageha's house according to etiquette, 
mantras were recited and ceremonies were performed, 
after which, Vasudeva clad in becoming attire after .a 
bath, received his first lesson in the 0,.Na r Ma, of the 
Sanskrit alphabet. 

The commencement once made, every day showed 
strides of progress. A capacity to learn off anything 
•new without effort, was soon manifest. Vasudeva 
allowed himself to be taught only once and no more. 
He tolerated no repetition or revision, for, that was 
surperfkous. Whenever his father tried to go over 
trodden groMd, he protested and reproduced *lie 
lesson in question Iroiaa his memor% so as to convince 
Madhyageha, tfeat he meed spare himself the troiible. 


To avert the influence of evil-eyes, Madhyageha 
selected some lonely place for tuition and taught his 
son in secret. 

The extent to which Vasudeva mastered and 
assimilated his father's lessons, soon came to be 
tested by an incident at Neyampalli. It happened 
that Vasudeva and his mother paid a visit to a relation 
in this village on the occasion of a marriage. 
Madhyageha had stayed behind in Pajakakshetra. 
At Neyampalli, a learned man whose name was Siva, 
and family-designation Madikullaya, (Dhoutapatod- 
bhava) used to read and interpret Puranic passages to 
a large audience. It chanced that Vasudeva attended 
the Puranic exposition, probably along with his 
mother. When a difficult passage was being elucid- 
ated, Siva committed a mistake. Vasudeva promptly 
threw in a word to correct hirn, to the astonishment 
of the assembly. He had spotted the error, and made 
the correction, before any elderly person had noticed 
the mistake. The boy's words were sensible, his 
explanation was lucid and illuminating, and his 
bearing dignified and noble. Every eye was turned 
towards him, and most eyes were suffused with tears 
of tenderness. When the party broke up and he left 
the place, he was the observed of all observers. This 
was an incident resembling a miniature edition of 
those dialectical triumphs that were soon to become 
the distinguishing feature of his great future. 

When Vasudeva returned to his father, he re- 
counted to him his little triumph, and asked him in 
guileless innocence, whether Siva had not gone 
wrong. Madhyageha listened with attention, and 
allowed that Siva had committed a blunder. 

Another incident of the same character is reported 
to have occurred in Pajakakshetra itself. This time, it 


was Madhyageha himself, that was explaining a 
Purana to a large gathering. Vasudeva sat listening 
with attention, carefully following the thread of the 
discourse. In the course of the exposition, it 
happened that Madhyageha passed over the word 
" Likucha " that occured in the context, and failed 
to explain its meaning. Vasudeva quietly and 
respectfully drew his father's attention to the 
omission, and gave out the appropriate exposition 
himself. The behaviour of Vasudeva was striking 
in this instance. There was no trace or tinge of 
egotism or boast, either in his tone, or his demean- 
our. His manner was so charmingly respectful, 
that his interruption was greatly appreciated and 
applauded, instead of being resented. The people in 
the assembly were surprised and delighted to see that 
the tiny Vasudeva had picked up so much of Sanskrit 
as to subject the discourses of eminent Pandits to a 
critical scrutiny. Those who have read Lord Macau- 
lay's life, will not set aside these anecdotes of the 
boy-prodigy, as altogether improbable. It is said of 
Thomas Babington Macaulay that " From infancy he 
showed that insatiable thirst for knowledge, that 
prodigious tenacity of memory, that talent for phrase- 
making, which were subsequently the delight and 
envy of his contemporaries." It is recorded of him 
that he wrote a compendium of Universal History at 
the age of seven, besides composing three cantoes of 
the " Battle of the Cheviots " in imitation of Sir 
Walter Scott. 

For some reason rather difficult to fathom, 
people are disposed to twirl their lips in incredulity 
and derision, when a quasi-miraculous story is related 
of Sri Madhva, or other great personages of India, 
while they swallow without demur, any tale concern- 


itig the celebrities of English Literature, however 
extravagant it may seem, in relation to average stand* 
ards. Speaking humanly even, Sri Madhva is one 
that has left a greater imprint on the sands of time 
than Macaulay, for it is given to very few heroes to 
strike out into original paths of religious thought. 
Such however is the prevailing partiality and prejudice, 
that, while literateurs who are only eminent phrase- 
makers pass for geniuses, leaders and founders of 
systems who build anicuts across the streams of 
dustomary thought, and divert them to flow into new 
channels, so as to fertilize unexplored fields of religious 
literature, are very tardily allowed the measure of 
appreciation justly due to their leadership. 


Upanayana and Early Studies. 

The ceremony of Upanayana at which every 
Brahmin Boy is invested, at about the 8th year of his 
age, with the triple cord, and introduced to Vedic 
studies, is a turning point of his life. The reverence 
with which this function used to be regarded, has 
waned only since the popularity of English Colleges 
in the nineteenth century. Of the sixteen ceremonies 
enjoined for a Brahmin and performed (more or less 
mechanically in the present age), Upanayana is the 
crowning one, to which the utmost spiritual importance 
is justly due. For, this function denotes the land- 
mark by which he who was a Brahmana by the mere 
courtesy of birth, becomes a Brahmana in the trqe 
sense, through a process of spiritual regeneration. 
" Brahmana " denotes a " Knower of Brahman " 
iterally, and no person is truly entitled to tJiat 

vl] upanayana ako early studies. 51 

distinction, unless and until he has acquired true 
spiritual knowledge. The necessary initiation takes 
place at Upanayana, the spiritual teacher who may be 
the boy's father or any qualified Guru, leading the boy 
unto the threshold of sacred studies and ushering him 
into the region of spiritual culture. This is the mile- 
stone marking oft the inception of Brahmacharya, the 
first of the four asramas or stages into which the Hindu 
Law divides the life of a Brahmana. A Brahmacharin 
is expected to give up most of his previous habits and 
practices, and start on a new career in which disci- 
pline and study are the ruling principles of his life. 
At Upanayana, he submits to the yoke of religious 
Law, and takes vows of allegiance and loyalty thereto. 
The triple cord, symbolizing in a sense, body, speech, 
and mind, knotted together and reduced to control, is 
the emblem with which he is invested in token of his 
new position, and this, he wears for life, unless he 
enters the ascetic order later on. 

The reader may feel tempted to enquire if the 
Brahmana and the Brahmacharin is a living entity in 
the twentieth century, in the sense that those words 
convey etymologically. The sad confession has to be 
made that he is a rare entity, and is seldom met with 
as a true chip of the old block. The exigencies of 
modern life, the stress of Western ideas and ideals, 
the keen scramble for bread, the struggle and competi- 
tion in which the survival of the fittest alone is the 
law, have made it impossible for the old order of 
things to continue in pristine purity. Barring 
honorable exceptions, it must be admitted that several 
of our ancient customs, habits^ practices, and observan- 
ces, survive to this day, as mere fossils of memory. 
Every Dwija-boy passes through Upanayana ewn 
now. In what percentage of cases can it be said that 


the spiritual significance of the ceremony is realized ? 
Not one in a thousand. The occasion is availed of for 
festivities and tamaska, and money is spent lavishly, 
very often in excess of one's means, on pandals and 
processions. But this is not as it should be. 

Most Brahmana boys have their Upanayana in 
the eighth year of their age. It is not orthodox to 
cross this limit. Having regard to Vasudeva's special 
qualifications, Madhyageha was too impatient to wait 
so long. Vasudeva was barely five years old when an 
auspicious day was fixed for the purpose. The in- 
vestiture with the triple cord, took place with consider- 
able solemnity, as well as the great initiation. The 
boy was taught the sacred OM and Gayatri — the 
mantram of mantrams regarded as the essence of the 
Vedas. It is the pithy prayer that every Brahmana 
repeats or is expected to repeat again and again 
many a time every day. Ostensibly, it is an address 
to the Sun. But it is really a supplication to the 
in-dweller of the Sun, the great Sur3 T a-Narayana, for 
spiritual light. Gayatri is the Brahmana's motto of 
" Light, more light ", a motto that characteristically 
sums up all his aspirations into a pursuit of know- 
ledge. Pranava and Gayatri constitute the very 
breath of his spiritual respiration, and no vow or 
penance, no religious ceremon}' or function, is possible 
without these being uttered over and over again, 
elderly people resorting to rosary beads to count the 
number of repetitions. 

Thus Vasudeva was ushered very early into the 
new phase of life, for which divinity itself had marked 
him out. In this instance at least, it was not an empty 
farce of the Purohit mumbling a jargon, and the boy 
together with his parents passing mechanically through 
a dumbshow of gestures to the bidding of the priest 


Madhyageha was a learned man, and his boy was a 
genius. They both earnestly followed the details of 
the ritual in its exoteric and esoteric sense, and 
realised, in a full measure, the allegorical import of 
every observance connected with Sandhyavandana 
and Agnihotra. 

Vasudeva was a glorious beauty. Whoever set 
eyes on him, felt them riveted to his figure^ by an 
indescribable fascination. The way in which the little 
sage took to his new duties, the enthusiasm which he 
displayed, the radiance of new light that so overspread 
his face and features as to add fresh glory to the 
charms of his natural beauty and grace, are spoken of 
in glowing terms as the striking traits of an 
attractiveness almost hypnotic in character. 

Those who have visited Pajakakshetra know that 
on the Wc*y leading from Madhyageha's house to the 
Durga temple on the hill-top, an enclosure of rough 
stonfes is drawn attention to, as the spot where our 
hero killed a gigantic serpent. It is believed that the 
Asura known as Maniman in Mahabharata, dwelt in 
the woods as a mighty snake. Soon after the Upa- 
nayana, Vasudeva encountered this ferocious reptile in 
the course of his rambles. He had not strayed away 
far from home, when the serpent that had been dwell- 
ing in the thickets and bushes of the hill-slope pounced 
upon him with fury, and attacked him with his poison- 
ed fangs. The onslaught was both quick and fierce. 
But Vasudeva was equal to the emergency. Cool and 
courageous, he received the attack with perfect com- 
posure, and crushed the serpent's hood with his 
powerful toe. 

Vasudeva was now a boy of tender years. The 
pluck and daring he evinced was such as to do credit to 


a warrior. The whole village was bestirred by unusual 
sensation, on receipt of the news. Vasudeva had 
been attacked by a terrible snake. People were 
ready to faint, to hear of it. The sequel relieved 
them by the announcement that he had been 
victorious. They rushed to the spot and found a 
mighty snake with its hood crushed into paste. They 
could hardly believe their eyes at first, but the 
plain truth was there, beyond the pale of speculation, 
controversy, or conjecture. 

That the memory of the incident is still green, 
and that the spot is still preserved sacred within a 
rude enclosure, are fair proofs of an unusual 
occurrence. Living in the midst of hills and dales, 
and moving constantly among serpents and wild 
animals, it is very unlikely that the villagers accus- 
tomed to forest life, would have gone into hysterics 
over a mere trifle. 

This day, Vasudeva did not return home in the 
usual time, having been detained at the Manimantha- 
spot by one cause after another, including, probably, 
among others, the pressing inquisitiveness of the 
gathering crowd. His mother had been expecting 
him for some time, and felt anxious at his prolonged 
absence. Evidently, she had not heard the news. 
Her maternal instinct scented mishap and made her 
restless. In a fit of unrest, she called to Vasudeva 
loudly by his name, in the hope that he might be in the 
neighbourhood, and turn up in response. And sure 
enough he did, in a twinkle. In order to effect his 
purpose, they say that Vasudeva took a ' long jump ' 
from where he was to the front of his house, and 
presented himself before his mother. This again was 
& feat that Hanuman alone could have accomplished. 
He began the day's proceedings by performing a feat 


of Bheemasena, by crushing a great Rakshasa with 
easy non-chalance. He ended the* miracle by a 
wonderful jump. It is said, that the rocky ground on 
which he set his feet thus with great velocity and 
force, became indented by his footprints. Over this 
monument, now stands a temple to signalise the event. 

It is a divine Maya that Avatara-purushas perform 
miracles before the ver} eyes of people, but these 
leave no enduring impression. Sri Krishna disclosed 
himself to Devaki and Vasudeva as soon as he was 
born. At the moment, they adored him as God 
incarnate. They were bidden to take him through 
barred doors and the flooding Jumna. A series of 
miracles occurred before their eyes. But lo! the impres- 
sion vanished, soon after. Yesoda was convinced that 
the babe Krishna was no other than the Almighty hold- 
ing the Universe in His stomach. When Sri Krishna 
shut up his mouth, Yasoda got into the old groove of 
ignorance, and iorgot all about the wonderful scene 
that she had witnessed. Time after time, Sri Krishna 
furnished proofs of his godhead, but the conviction 
brought about was ephemeral, except in the minds of 
seers and sages. At other times, Sri Krishna laughed 
and wept like other children, and displayed joys and 
griefs over toys and trifles. He was sent to learn 
literary lessons from a teacher, and there he was, 
sitting at the Guru's feet, and meekly conning the 
drudgery. He was told off' to hew wood in the jungle, 
and bring a bundle of fuel for the hearth of the Guru's 
household. He submitted quietly to the ordeal, and 
spent hours, if not days, in the thickening darkness of 
a forest, engaged along with a school mate, in hewing 
away logs of timber. This was the Lord's Maya. 

Equally mysterious are the ways of the Lord's 
Bhaktas descending on Earth to fulfil His work. 


They give notice at times of who and what they are. 
But the warning passes away like a flash of lightning, 
disapears in the prevailing gloom, and hardly leaves a 
trace even in memory. Ordinarily, they follow the 
human routine of work and seem to share the 
common joys and sorrows incidental to, and making 
up the lot of, human life. 

Judged as a common boy whose initiation as a 
Dwija had taken place, Vasudeva was bound to be 
sent to school. So he was packed off' to a village 
school close by. The schoolmaster took charge of 
Vasudeva's education from this period up to the time 
when Vasudeva turned his thought to renunciation. 
Sriman Madhva Vijia does not say for how many 
years Vasudeva underwent the tiatn* jmpillari. We 
are left to conjecture the duration, as best we may. 
It could not have been a very short period, for, the 
course of study embraced, besides Poetic literature, 
the Nyaya and Vedangas, in their most comprehensive 
purview. The schoolmaster was of Poogavana 
(Thotam Thillaya in the Vernacular) descent. He 
was a learned Brahman whose knowledge of the 
Upanishads was ol no mean order. He was a 
fairly popular teacher, as may be gathered from the 
circumstance that his classes were numerously attend- 
ed. One of the pupils in this school, was the school- 
masters son himself, with whom Vasudeva contracted 
a lasting friendship that seems to have continued 
throughout his life. 

It will be incorrect to call the institution in which 
Vasudeva received his education after his Upanayana, a 
village school in the strict sense. For, this conveys 
the idea of school-fees, grants, salaries and inspections, 
that ear-mark such a school now-a-days. Before the 
establishment of village primary schools in the 19th 

Missing pages - 57 to 64 

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vil] from upanayana to sanyasa. 65 

was driven thus to desperation, fell at his son's feet 
and begged him to change his mind. This was an un- 
fortunate, ill-omened, move. Vasudeva retorted to him, 
saying, that this prostration spontaneously resorted to 
by one so senior in age, a position admissible only if 
the younger person was an ascetic, simply confirmed 
his resolve by being an ominous prediction of what 
was to be. 

Madhyageha was silenced by this repartee, as his 
wits had deserted him. He retraced his way home, 
quite woe-be-gone and distracted by the thought that 
his dear son whose separation he could not brook for 
an hour, the ideal of his dreams and hopes, was to be 
virtually lost to him. His despair can be imagined, 
if we recall to mind Dasaratha's grief when 
Viswamitra took away Sri Ramachandra, not yet 
sixteen years old, to fight the Asuras in the woods. 
His despair is conceivable when we read of how Sri 
Ramachandra's departure at the instance of Kaikeyi 
snapped the bonds of Dasaratha's life and sent him to 
a premature grave. 

If the reader is not satisfied with such ancient 
anecdotes, and insists on modern examples, I may 
refer him, if he pardons the sacrilege, to instances 
of young men decoyed by the Christian Missionary, 
leaving behind them a desolate grief-striken 
home. The comparison is misleading, inasmuchas 
Achuta Preksha was not responsible for Vasudeva's 
action. It is untrue in the sense that Vasudeva 
violated any duties and forsook any religion, Madhya:- 
geha felt the same grief, the same despair, as the 
parent whose son rushes into the arms of a Christian 
Missionary and doggedly repels every profferred advice 
and reasoning. 


Madhyageha recounted the occurrences to his 
wife, and both felt a void which was impossible to 
fill. He tried to endure for a time, but this was 
impossible. He set out again to try another chance, 
and make one more desperate effort. In the meantime 
the Guru had left Udupi, touring in the South. Vasu- 
deva was with him in the circuit camp. Madhyageha 
followed in their wake and had to cross the Netravati 
river to overtake them. This river is about 38 miles 
to the south of Udupi and runs south of Mangalore 
and quite near this town. He crossed the river, and 
found his son and the ascetic, in the village of Kayooru, 
having their lodgings in what was known as Kuthyidi 
Mutt. Very animated was the conversation that 
ensued between the unhappy father and the resolute 
son, Madhyageha became furious, at one stage, and 
threatened to put an end to himself, if his son should 
have his own way. The son tore up a cloth, put it on 
as a sanyasin's kmipena, and challenged his father to 
carry out his threat. Temper cooled a bit on both 
sides. Vasudeva begged of his father not to stand in 
the way of a meritorious action. Madhyageha then 
appealed to the emotional impulses of the youth, and 
asked him how he had the heart to forsake his old 
parents, circumstanced, as they were, without any other 
filial support to rest upon. Vasudeva was evidently 
moved. He promised not to enter the sacred order 
until a younger brother was born. Even this did not 
satisfy the old man. Not seeing any other way out of 
the difficulty, he told his son that if his (Vasudeva's) 
mother agreed, he might please himself. Vasudeva 
agreed to this, and Madhyageha left for his village. 
Then followed a period of suspense with mingled 
feelings of grief and pleasure. Madhyageha watched 
the progress of events, when he learned that his wife 
would in due course present him with further issue, 

No 2. 
" The son tore up a cloth, and challenged his father " — P. 66. 

V«4 f EOM UMNAYAHA TO M)tt**k* ty 

At last a son was bom, who was to becoftie the Cai&owil 
Vishnu Theertha of Subrahmanya, the founder of Sodai 

On hearing ot this, Vasudeva paid a flying visit to 
his village Pajakakshetra to speak to his mother. He 
told her that he mwtt have her permission to enter the 
holy order, and that if it was refused, she might be sure 
that she could never look at his face again for he 
would disappear altogether and become lost to th$ 
world. This proved a home-thrust. The maternal love 
reconciled itself to the situation, arguing that it was 
better to have her son before her eyes, Sanyasin as he 
might be, than to lose him out of sight for ever, 
She therefore yielded with reluctance. Vasudeva had 
thus the permission of both parents to carry out his 

The exact age of Vasudeva when he assumed 
Sanyasa is a point of considerable doubt and conjecture. 
Some say he was barely nine years old. Others say 
he was 11 or 12. It is even conjectured that he was 
at least sixteen. Mr. Krishnaswami Iyer's 'historical 
sketch* puts it at 25. He deduces it on the strength of 
an astronomical calculation coupled with a conjecture, 
Sri Madhva Vijia states that shortly after becoming a 
Sanyasin, Poornapragna sought permission of his 
Guru to perform a pilgrimage to the Ganges. Achuta 
Preksha was unwilling to accord permission, because 
he could not brook a separation from his Sishya, so 
soon after the initiation. The anecdote goes on to say 
that an oracle prophesied a spiritual visit of the 
Goddess Ganga to a pond of Udupi in three days and 
said that Poornapragna need not undertake the 
journey just then. The announcement was that this 
visit of Ganga would be repeated once in twelve y«ars« 


Mn C.N. Krishnaswamy Iyer argues that this anecdote 
refers to the . well-known Mahamakham festival 
celebrated now at Kumbhakonam and that, inasmuch- 
as this festivity falls when Jupiter is in Leo, such a 
planetary combination occurred soon after Poorna- 
pragna's entry into the holy brotherhood. After 
concluding that our Acharya was born in 1 199 A. D. 
and that this anecdote postulates Jupiter in Leo, he 
consults an astronomical friend and pitches upon 1 200 
A.D., 1212 A.D., 1224 A.D., and 1236 A.D. as the years 
when such a position occurred. He rejects 1200 and 
1 21 2 A.D. on the ground that the Acharya was too 
young, and rejects 1236 A.D. also, as too late in his life. 
Accepting 1224 A.D. he makes him out a young man of 
25 at his renunciation. Mr. Iyer admits that there is no 
trace of Mahamakham festivity as ever celebrated at 
Udupi at any time within the memory of man. Nor is 
there any authentic proof that Sri Madhva originated 
it in Kumbhakonam. So the notion of Mahamakham 
and Jupiter in Leo is somewhat far-fetched. The 
year of birth is yet far from being satisfactorily 
established as 1199 A.D. The grounds for rejecting 
this date are at least as strong as those for adopting 
it If these two positions are of doubtful correctness, 
the date of renunciation can hardly be 1224 A.D. 
If a similar far-fetched conjecture may be hazarded, 
it may be permissible to argue likewise that 
Madhyageha would not have allowed his son to 
remain a bachelor till his 25th year. Having regard 
to his position in society, to his moderate affluence, 
to his brilliant parts, and to his matchless handsome- 
ness, offers of marriage would indeed have been far 
too many, and too pressing, to resist. What is the 
reason, then, that induced Madyageha to continue 
bis son in single blessedness till such a late age ? It 


may be remembered that early marriages were perhaps 
more prevalent seven hundred years ago than now. 

Assuming that the episode relating to the Ganges 
relates to Jupiter in Leo, one such position fell in 1248 
A.D. This would be 10 or \ \ years after Sri Madhva's 
birth, taking 1237 — 38 A.D. as the date on which the 
avatar took place. In a previous chapter discussing the 
date, I have shown it very probable that the Master 
was born in Viiambi 1237 — 38 A.D., and disappeared 
in 1317 A.D., judging from the testimony of archaeo- 
logical inscriptions. 

An old extract of Sanskrit verses that I saw at 
Udupi in the possession of a Pandit, says, that Sri 
Madhva had his Upanayana in his fifth year and 
Sanyasa seven years after. Mr. Subba Rao of Salem 
says that the renunciation took place on the 4th 
Krishnap^ksha of Ashada of a Viiambi year. Testi- 
mony seems strong in support of the view that 
Viiambi is the year of the Masters birth and not of 
his renunciation. 

In this state of conflict, it is not possible to be 
dogmatic. I can find no good reason to reject the 
view that Vasudeva was 11 or 12 years old when he 
sought the highest Asrama of the Brahminical Law. 



Prince Sidhartha forsook the throne and courted 
poverty out of an overpowering love for humanity. 
The mighty gulf between the position of his birth-right 
and that of his choice, furnishes the most staggering 
instance of altruism on record. Judged from a human 


stand-point, the world is not able to show a parallel to 
this. He declared : — 

•* Because my heart 
Beats with each throb ot all the hearts that ache 
Known and unknown, these that are mine and those 
Which shall be mine, a thousand million more 
Saved by the sacrifice I offer now... 

" I choose 

To tread its (Earth's) paths with patient stainless ffjet 
Making its dust my bed, its loveliest wastes 
My dwelling, and its meanest things my mates, 
Clad in no prouder garb than outcastes wear 
Fed with no meats save what the charitable 
Give of their will, sheltered by no more pomp 
Than the dim cave lends or the jungle bush. 
This will I do, because of the woeful cry 
Of pity for the sickness of the world : 
Which 1 will heal, if healing may be found 
By utmost renouncing and strong strife". 

Light of Asia* 

This was Sidhartha, great and fortunate, rjeh and 
dowered with health and ease, not tired of life, but 
glad in the freshness of its morning. He was not 
one that had been satiated with Love's delicious feasts, 
but hungry and passionate for the joys of the flesh ; 
not one that was worn and wrinkled, s#dly sage, but 
joyous with the sunny smiles of yoyth, health, and 
strength. He tore himself away from whatsoever was 
dear to his heart and chose a career of poverty and 
privation in order to heal the sufferings of humanity. 

The altruistic sentiments, of which Sidhartha's life 
was an embodied expression, staggered humanity by 
their sublimity. They are too divine to be grasped 
by the ordinary run of men. The attitude of Sidhartha's 
selfless heroism is too high for self-absorbed mortals 
to gaze at and understand. 


This is the history of a every great personage that 
has left his foot-prints on the sands of time. No great- 
ness is possible without a dedication of self for the 
benefit of others, without an effacement of self in 
order to increase the fund of human joy, or relieve the 
stress of human suffering. 

It is refreshing to think that India has been able 
to boast of sages and saints, the very breath of whose 
nostrils was selfless heroism. The great man in India, 
has never been the bounding millionaire, loaded with 
tons of gold and unable to get rid of it by a life of 
luxury. The great man in India, has not been the 
intellectual man who could glibly talk away in oratori- 
cal flights or turn out volumes of fantastic chaff in 
poetry or fiction. Here, greatness has been synony- 
mous with goodness. We have worshipped greatness 
that was divine and nothing lower than that. Sidhartha 
was divine, because of the sympathy that he breathed. 
Other teachers and Messiahs were divine, because 
their hearts burst with overwhelming kindness for the 
sufferings of mankind. 

The hero of the "Bodhi" tree has had his 
representatives and reflections in miniature from time 
to time, ever since he set the example. The body of 
Sadhoos in this country, counting only the most sincere 
and genuine of the lot, has never been a negligible 
quantity. Sadhooism or asceticism is not a bed of 
roses. The life of poverty and privation that they lead 
is so severe and so rigid that it will not be believed in, 
outside India. Those who have a first-hand acquaint- 
ance with it, know very well what a lofty life of selt- 
abnegation these recluses and hermits lead. A spirit 
of calumny and depreciation will point to stray 


instances of aberration. But these critics know not 
the inner life of Indian society. 

The reader will pause for a moment to reflect on 
the tragic circumstances of Sri Madhva's entry into the 
holy order. The boy was not yet of an age to have 
become tired of life or sick of its monotony and its 
wickedness. Fie possessed all that is prized by the 
wordly-wise, everything that could make life worth 
living. He was confident of a towering genius 
calculated to storm any difficulties and bring the 
gratification of any desire within his reach. He had 
for parents two estimable persons who literally idolis- 
ed him and lavished on him the choicest roses of the 
heart's tenderest love. He had suffered no griefs, no 
disappointments, no rebuffs, to goad him to pessimism 
or force him to take the fox's view of life that the 
grapes were too sour to be worth longing for. 

Vasudeva fully realised the situation and made 
a deliberate choice. It was not the silver and gold of 
Achutapreksha that had dazzled his vision, for, of that, 
the Mutt could not boast much. It was not the 
pressure of parents, as is too often the case in similar 
instances, for, instead of tolerating him, they offered 
a stout and vigorous protest, and opposed his wish. 
Nor was it a case of young fancy tickled by the 
glamour of riches, rank, or paraphernalia. 

Hence, Vasudeva's resolution, looked at in its 
true light, brings the conviction home that no vanity 
or imposture was at the bottom of it. There was no 
personal consideration to detract from its merits, and 
no suspicion of personal aggrandizement attached to 
it whatsoever. 

There is a Divine aspect too, which the orthodox 
do not overlook, God had sent down this Messenger 


of truth to connect the erring ways of mankind. 
Therefore he could ill afford to waste his years in a 
prolonged indulgence of boyhood pranks, or amidst 
the stale and insipid enjoyments of his father's home, 
while the great purpose of his mission remained 
neglected and postponed. His life was a sacred trust 
for the benefit of the public and he had no choice but 
to fulfil the trust as early as might be. 

It would not have been appropriate for the Master 
to have adopted the house-holder's life in order to 
achieve the purpose of his avatar. The spectacle of a 
Grahastha apparently in the full enjoyment of sensuous 
pleasures, preaching renunciation as the only road to 
salvation, would have been a flagrant incongruity. The 
discrepancy between profession and practice would 
have marred the effect of his teachings and fallen flat 
on an unbelieving public. When scepticism was 
stalking through the land, it was necessary to give it 
battle with the utmost fervour. The teachers that had 
gone before him had bewitched the imagination by 
leading a life of thorough self-denial. Sri Madhva saw 
that, for a bloodless Reformation, a striking life of 
asceticism was the first and most essential condition 
of success. 

He waited not a day more than was absolutely 
necessary. To keep up appearances, he had passed 
through the routine of fashionable education, and had 
seemed to be equipping himself with a sound 
knowledge of preliminary subjects. But he had known 
it all before, as the legacy of births gone by. His 
memory had always been well-stocked with every 
branch of knowledge and had needed very little of 
stimulus to be awakened. The condition of misguided 
men who had lost the way and were groping in 


darkness appealed powerfully to him for succour, and 
his heart was tpo nobly responsive to be cold. 

A full year of probation went by, before Achuta- 
preksha resolved to perform the Initiation. The 
Sastras insist on a rigid probation .of a year or more, 
before a Guru accepts a chela, and establishes a tie of 
spiritual sonship. The Guru is culpable if he admits 
any seeker into the holy order in a flippant spirit 
or a light-hearted frivolity, and without suitable tests 
imposed during probation to ascertain the worth of 
the novitiate. To this rule, Vasudeva submitted 
without demur. 

Having sought the Guru at Udupi, Vasudeva had 
attached himself to the Mutt and performed every 
kind of service to win his grace and benediction. 
When the Guru proceeded on his tours, Vasudeva 
accompanied his camp. He was patiently biding the 
time, when his mother, who was encimte, should tide 
over the crisis and bless him god-speed as mothers 
alone can do. At last, when the happy news of a 
younger brother unshered into the world removed all 
obstacles from his way, he approached the Guru to 
terminate the probation and accept him within the 
pale of holy brotherhood. 

It may be presumed that the Ananteswara temple 
put on a festive appearance on the auspicious day 
when Vasudeva made this entry. The eager crowd 
thronged at the entrance in order to occupy every 
inch of available space whence a view could be 
obtained. There was a fluter and a general conscious- 
ness that this was a memorable occasion. 

The young ascetic parted with his silken tresses, 
donned the reddish robes of the Sanyasin, and took 
up the knotted wand of the Order. But the bald head 


and the rude garments hardly diminished or affected 
the glorious lustre of his golden limbs and features. 
When he went round the shrine t with his bowl and 
staff, entered the sanctum of Ananteswara, and pro- 
strated before the idol of Narayana, there was not 
a single eye which was not full of tears, nor was there 
a single throat not choked by emotion. Achuta- 
preksha felt it the proudest moment of his life when 
he placed his hands on the glorious Vasudeva and 
blessed him in his new name of POORNA PRAGNA, 
The good people of Udupi felt it the most solemn 
spectable they had ever witnessed, when they beheld 
the young ascetic pass through the function with 
touching earnestness of manner. On the whole, 
every one regarded this as an epoch-making event in 
the humble annals of Udupi. 

One is curious to know if Madhyageha was a 
spectator of this remarkable scene. Sriman Madhva 
Vijia is silent on the point. The probabilities are that 
he stayed away at home, avoiding what would have 
been to him a heart-rending spectacle. Who can say 
he was not right ? 

The Rubican was crossed at last. Sri Madhva 
turned a new page in his life and took to his new 
duties with enthusiasm. It took him hardly any time 
to master the routine of the new Order and" faithfully 
pass through the proper observances. All the boyish 
mischief of which he had been capable, was gone at 
a sweep, and here he was, a veritable sage, sober and 
sedate, pursuing a career of study and meditation, and 
well-nigh commencing his campaign of crusade 
against faulty systems of philosophy and religion. 

It was part of the old methods of education for 
kings to hold public assemblies from time tp time, in 


which it was open to any person to display his 
learning- Every facility was offered to new-comers 
to carry on academical debates with the Pandits 
attached to the Royal Courts. The Royal Budget was 
usually liberal in the matter ot rewards. Kings and 
chieftains vied with one another to excel in patronage 
of this kind. They took a special pride in being 
regarded as liberal patrons of learning. As soon as 
their education was finished, learned men travelled 
from one end of the country to another, to attend these 
Sabhas of Royalty and make their mark. What took 
place in these Sabhas was a kind of Viva Voce public 
examination, the successful candiates being rewarded 
with diplomas or monetary presents. 

The example of Royalty was imitated by noble 
men and lesser personages also. It was recognised 
as a duty of wealth and of affluence to set apart a 
large fraction of funds towards an encouragement 
of Sanskrit scholarship. The aristocrats of old knew 
not of any luxury more legitimate than this, of no 
purpose having a better established claim on their 

Every Mutt or religious institution was a patron 
of learning in a marked degree. The head of these 
corporations sole, was usually himself a luminary of 
renown. Around him, he gathered other celebrities 
more or less renowned in some special study or other, 
such as logic, grammar or Mimamsa. Frequent Sabhas 
were held to test the merit of distinguished visitors. 
No Sanyasin of old could have got on for a day, if he 
was not a Pandit versed in the popular branches of 
study. Nor could he have commanded respect 
unless he did everything in his power to patronise 
learning and scholarship. 


In these intellectual Melees, it was the Nyaya 
and Vaiseshika system of logic that usually came in 
for the largest share of patronage. Goutama and 
Kanada, the founders of Indian Logic, have left 
works of undying reputation on syllogistic reasoning. 
Their works, together with commentaries, are the 
most authoritative treatises on Induction and Deduc- 
tion. Akin to the pedantic school-men of Europe, 
Tharkikas were veritable marvels of intellectual 
acrobatics. They were great lovers of abstract ideas 
to express which they adopted a language of super- 
subtle technicalities. The result was that those who 
could boast of Naiyayika scholarship were invincible 
debaters in Sabhas. It was this branch of knowledge 
alone that used to pay, more than any other. They 
were generally able to silence and mystify any 
opponent, by their verbiage and subtlety. 

It chanced that a great celebrity, known as 
Vasudeva, passed through Udupi with a large retinue, 
as an itinerent Pandit. He could not ignore Achuta- 
preksha's Matt, for, the Guru was an eminent name in 
the world of letters. Vasudeva, therefore, naturally 
paid his respects at the Mutt and expected that 
a Sabha should be held in his honour at which he 
might engage somebody in controversy. He had not, 
however, expected to find an opponent like our 
Poorna Pragna to give him battle. 

Udupi and the neighbourhood assembled in a 
huge gathering at a short notice. Sri Madhva and his 
Guru took their seats, like the President and 
Vice-President, as it were, of the assemblage- The 
memorable disputation began with Vasudeva selecting 
some theme of his own, and discussing it in all its 
aspects. For three days, Vasudeva went on without 
intermission, martialling a powerful array of arguments 


in support of the position he finally took up and 
maintained. At length, he concluded amidst the 
applause of the audience. Every one wondered who 
would meet this giant and dare to assail his positions. 

Poorna Pragna took up the gauntlet, and began 
to reply with equal ardour and greater cogency. It 
was expected that he would sum up his adversary's 
points briefly, so as to convince the audience that he 
had grasped the issues in dispute. He, therefore, 
re-produced Vasudeva's arguments, almost verbatim, 
and set forth his position lucidly before commencing 
his own attack. The audience listened with 
rapt attention, spell-bound by the music of his 
splendid voice, and the reverberating ring of his 
delivery. There was no hesitation or pause for 
words or thoughts. The flow was kept up like a 
magnificent stream. The manner and the matter of 
his eloquent speech was truly fascinating. It was the 
Master's maiden entry into the arena of dialectical 
contest, and the debut was a striking success. He got 
on like a veteran, and succeeded in smashing all the 
arguments of the boastful opponent. The signal 
triumph won on this occasin elicited universal applause. 
They cheered him again and again, and deemed him 
an acquisition to the ranks of learning. 

It is to be remembered that in this disputation 
not only was Vasudeva badly beaten, but several of 
his companion-Pandits who had tried hard to defend 
his position. A diplomah of triumph was presumably 
passed to the young hero as a memorial of his first 
great triumph. We are told that this incident happened 
forty days after Sri Madhva's Ordination. 

The marvellous feat of the young hero furnished to 
Achutapreksha an ocular proof of his pupil's attain- 


ments. He saW that Poorna Pragna fully deserved 
the appellation bestowed on him, and that he had an 
old head on young shoulders. He was convinced 
that the usual course of elementary lessons in 
the lowest rung of the ladder could well be dispensed 
with in his case, and that serious studies might 
be commenced straight away. He perceived that 
Poorna Pragna's acquaintance with grammar and 
logic were already masterly, and felt nothing to 
be desired. He presumed, however, that the village 
school-master of Danda Theertha would not have 
meddled with advanced studies of philosophy. 
Consequently, he told Sri Madhva that they had 
better start with some Adwaita treatise. The pupil 
obeyed the Guru's behests with cheerfulness. The 
work known as Ishta Sidhi was chosen for 

After preliminaries were gone through, the first 
verse was read, and Achutapreksha expatiated on its 
beauties and explained the express and implied import 
of the stanza. The pupil listened with attention to 
the very end. When the lecture was over, Poorna 
Pragna begged leave to make a few observations. He 
said that there were numerous flaws in the text and 
enumerated as many as 32 mistakes and fallacies. He 
proved that it was hardly worth wasting time over 
such a poor and faulty treatise as Ishta Sidhi, 

The Guru was staggered by what he heard. His 
scholarship was not equal to the Herculean task of 
defending the ancient positions. Poorna Pragna was 
such a close reasoner that there was no resisting the 
force of his Logic. Intellectual honesty brought home 
the conviction that the fallacies and faults were there, 
such as could not be overthrown by any amount of 


hair-splitting or quibbling. Thus, the pupil succeeded 
in sowing the first seeds of his great Protestantism. 

After this, master and pupil were neither of them 
very enthusiastic over the progress of this particular 
study. Objections and diffiulties cropped up at every 
step, and the course was seriously impeded by the 
inability of the teacher to meet them. 

Whenever Poorna Pragna was not engaged with 
his Guru or with the routines of worship and medi- 
tation, he devoted his time to Srimad Bhagavata. 
Some disciples used to recite this Purana in pursuance 
of a time-honoured usage by which a Puranic reci- 
tation had become an indispensible item of a 
Sanyasin's daily engagements. Poora Pragna used 
to sit amongst five or six readers and compare the 
the various readings with care and scrutiny. Amidst 
the material variations and divergences, he used 
to pitch upon the correct reading, and give excel- 
lent reasons for concluding that that alone was 
the authors version and no other. It looked as 
if intuition or previous knowledge guided his de- 
cision with unerring accuracy and without any 
exertion on his part. These critics subjected him 
to severe cross-examination. But he invariably 
stood the test and satisfied them that his conclusion 
was impregnable. The result was that those editions 
which had contained interpolations and manipulations 
so as to mangle the original, became purged of their 
errors, and the pristine purity of the original passages 
came to be restored. 

Among the audience, it chanced that all were not 
equally convinced about the soundness of Poorna 
Pragna's conclusions. Conservatism sometimes regards 
youth itself as a crime. Some people shook their 


heads and expressed their misgivings, by saying that 
the young ascetic was far from competent to sit in 
judgment over the time-honoured manuscripts. They 
refused to assume or presume that he did in fact 
possess a mastery of the work. Poorna Pragna was 
prepared for any test. One of the audience asked him 
to repeat the prose passages of the Vth Skandha of the 
great work. This was evidently considered a crucial 
test to find out the depHi of his knowledge. 

Without a moment's delay or hesitation, Poorna- 
Pragna reeled off passage after passage of the chapter 
in question with perfect accuracy. Nor did he desist 
until the eager listeners begged his pardon and 
expressed perfect satisfaction. 

The puzzle that everybody tried to solve was, 
how this prodigy of a boy had time or scope to master 
all that he seemed to know- He seemed to be familiar 
with logic, with grammar, with Vedas, and with 
lihagavata. Unable to solve the riddle by their own 
guess, they asked him point-blank, how he had 
managed to acquire so much proficiency within so 
short a span of life. The reply was promptly given that 
the acquisition had been made in previous births. 

This, one is inclined to believe, is the true 
explanation of a " genius." Talent is acquired 
experience, not necessarily from one's ancestry, but 
from one's own previous experiences. It is conceiv- 
able that all the skill and knowledge gathered by the 
experience of a life-time is not really lost, on the 
dissolution of the mortal trame, but sticks to the 
individual soul (JivaJ so that when he takes a re- 
birth, it serves as the nucleus of further acquisitions. 
This acoj.iis for the great variety and diversity 
of intellectual and moral capabilities found among 


persons whose environments, opportunities, and other 
circumstances # are otherwise equal. It would be a 
pity if Providence did not provide a law to conserve 
the energies of a human life-time, but allowed them 
to run waste as soon as the physical encasement 
went to decay. Such a view is not in keeping with 
the ways of Providence, as may be inferred from 
other well-known laws of nature. In the case of 
our hero, the accumulated experiences of the past 
were neither latent nor dim, but constituted a living 
memory ever fresh and ever lucid. 



When Sri Madhva chose to be Hanuman, he 
pulled mountains by the roots, took a ' long-jump ' 
across the ocean, gave battle single-handed to hosts 
of giants, and did other marvels of stirring interest. 
When he chose to be Bheemasena, he performed 
herculean deeds of valour, that went to fill the bulk 
of the great Mahabharata epic. When he chose to be 
a plain ascetic, clad in the robes of a monk, he did 
wonders likewise, but these were on a different plan, 
and cast on a different mould, from any that he had 
done before. 

A history that is neither a tragedy nor a comedy 
is a tame lifeless chronicle. It is stories of perils and 
hair-breadth escapes, of aristocratic marriages attended 
with scandal, of wars resulting in rivers of blood and 
hillocks of bone, of politics dealing with refinements 
of human wickedness, that are unanimously voted to 
be charming. Fairy tales in history or fiction fire the 
imagination and bewitch the average reader. Such 

ix.] othe& Dialectical triumphs. 83 

tales are relished with the keen excitement of a hunter 
engaged in a chase The history of-the Protestant 
Reformation in Europe is very largely a narrative of 
politics and war. It deals with the tyranny of kings, 
with the blood of the martyr, with the reign of terror 
that smothered liberty of conscience, with the suffering 
of thousands of victims that bent their heads to 
persecution, with heroes who allowed their hands to 
be consumed in flames rather than retract a syllable 
of their writings, with reformers like Luther who 
defied the power of Royalty. It was, in the main, a 
story of ravages by the fire and the sword. 

In India, too, there have been great Reformations, 
but none so bloody as those of the west. Researches 
are tending to prove that the so-called persecution 
of Budhists by the combined forces of Brahmanical 
ascendency, is, more or less, a figment of imagination 
or exaggeration. There were, undoubtedly, isolated 
cases of violent intolerance in all cases of change. 
On the whole, looking at the magnitude of some of 
the revolutions, the old order yielded silently to the 
new, with none of the destructive convulsions that 
might be expected on such occasions. 

The Protestantism inaugurated by Sri Madhva 
was a bloodless reformation. It has no tales of 
bloodshed to recount, no martyrdom committed to the 
flames, and no rebellions against law and order, to 
describe. The triumphs are purely achievements of 
peace. For centuries, it has been an important factor 
in the domain of thought, shaping, fashioning, and con- 
trolling the trend of civilization, but its claims were 
never proclaimed by the blatant advertisement of 
sensational episodes. 

Sri Madhva had done enough by way of valorous 
deeds in his previous Avatars. He now followecJ-a 


path of peace. He used persuasion as his only weapon. 
He worked stowly and silentiy in the society of the 
poor and the humble, and seldom touched even the 
fringes of royal courts. 

It would be of singular interest to know, if 
possible, all about the society in which this Reform- 
ation took shape, the ideals that ruled the times, the 
currents of thought that animated the leaders of the 
day, and the nature of the true forces that were 
in operation, together with the direction in which they 
acted. A divine author alone is competent to do justice 
to the great character of Sri Madhva, and portray 
fully the inner workings of his great mind, and 
present the apparently simple annals of the Master in 
their true light. But it is not given to us to perform 
this divine task. In most cases, the episodes handed 
down to us are mere outlines and skeletons, w r hich, no 
amount of conjecture can fill in, with flesh and life. 

Judging the tree by its fruit, and seeing how the 
old inertia was overcome, how the ball of change was 
set in motion, how the rigid ice of conservatism was 
broken and thawed, how the inert mass of customary 
thought got into a ferment, one is naturally disposed 
to think that the history of the age in question must 
be one of momentous interest. The subject might 
bristle with life, if handled by talents such as 1 do not 
unfortunately possess. 

Years rolled by, since Sri Madhva was ordained. 
The dialectical triumph referred to in the last chapter, 
lifted him at a bound to a high place in public estima- 
tion. The criticism of Ishta Sidhi brought his philo- 
sophical acumen to the fore-front. The exposition of 
Sri Mad Bhagavata established his versatile lore. 
Slowly, but surely, he attracted a following. The life 


of celibacy that he led was an impressive object-lesson 
of what true renunciation ought to be. • The lustre in 
which his person was covered, reflected a moral and 
spiritual halo, far and wide. 

It maybe presumed that Achuta Preksha was a 
monk of virtues ana some weaknesses. If he had the 
usual share of foibles that men of his class possessed, 
it is a little bit difficult to understand how lenient 
and forgiving he was to the rebellions of his pupil. 
Under ordinary circumstances, no Guru would have 
forgiven the ruthless treatment given to IshtaSidhi. 
Nor would he have put up with the implied humiliation 
of having his views analysed and dissected as they 
were, and blown to the winds by a mere stripling. 
But he did not resent all this. May be, that his faith 
itself in the old dogmas was lukewarm. May be, that 
he was an honest Guru who cared not to support his 
opinions by mean subterfuges. 

Achuta Preksha's attitude is not explicable 
without a due appreciation of the fact that Sri 
Madhva's personality carried a fascination of its own. 
He was so thoroughly unlike other persons and other 
prodigies too. His graceful dignity, his noble bearing, 
his towering intellect, his sweet smile, and his beaming 
face impressed one as divine. Looking upon the 
sweet face, the Guru had no heart for resentment. He 
was powerless to resist his charms. Day by day, this 
hypnotic attraction grew in power and acquired a 
mastery over him. He felt himself drawn more and 
more towards this Sishya. He knew not what to say 
or how to act. 

Meanwhile, Sri Madhva went on addressing large 
audiences day after day. Everyday, some new 
passages were interpreted, some new topic was dis- 


cussed, some dogma of old was challenged, and some 
new light was thrown over an old problem. The 
hours spent with him were hours of illumination. 
Everyone rejoiced to hear these daily lectures. 

The ground was thus prepared for the new seeds 
to sprout. Opposition was disarmed and receptivity 
ensured. Men were prepared to listen and to reflect. 
Men flocked to him whenever they could snatch an 
hour from their mundane pursuits and engagements, 
and eagerly devoured the flowing nectar of his voice. 
It is presumable that the Master discoursed much on 
Bhagavata as the sheet-anchor of his teachings. He 
knew what stress he was going to lay on this 
remarkable work in his future scheme. He pressed 
home the Bhakti-marga inculcated by the brilliant 
chapters of this sovereign Parana. It is not without 
a purpose that the young sage selected this work for 
his early discourses. There is no work more elevating 
and more inspiring to a Vaishnava ; for, every 
chapter herein breathes the spirit of a soul-stirring 
devotion, and every episode narrated, conveys lessons 
ofloity self-surrender and ctherial worship. He knew 
that the unmistakable drift of this volume was Dvaita, 
and that in point of sublimity and chasleriess of ideas, 
the luminous passages of this great book were both 
peerless and innumerable. 

In the course of these discourses, the ability and 
the influence of Poorna Pragna became more and more 
manifest. Achuta Preksha noted with pride the 
morning splendour of the rising sun, and formed within 
his own mind an estimate of what its noon-day glory 
would prove to be. He therefore felt that it was no 
longer necessary to keep this disciple in leading 
strings, and he resolved to put him in charge of a semi 


independent establishment as the Yuva Raj or heir- 
-apparent of the pontifical throne. 

Preparations appropriate for this installation were 
made, so as to celebrate the function in a befitting 
style. The admiring populace were naturally enthusi- 
astic over the matter, for, they took such a fancy to 
Poorna Pragna and were proud of him. The}' 
rejoiced to participate in any function meant for his 

On the appointed day, Achuta Preksha conducted 
the customary ceremonies and anointed the hero with 
pourings of holv water from shells of conch. He 
invoked blessings on Poorna Pragna, and bestowed on 
him the designation of "Ananda Theertha", in virtue 
of his new position. 

Anairia Theertha ! What a significant name ! 
"Ananda" is bliss and Theertha' denotes scriptures. 
The expression compliments the Master as the maker 
or exponent of blissful scriptures. The etymology of 
the word conveys several more ideas which it is need- 
less here to dilate upon. 

From this time, Ananda Theertha came to be in 
charge of a small establishment, and spent his time in 
a separate Mutt. He and his Guru continued, how- 
ever, on terms of the utmost cordiality. For all 
practical purposes, the two Mutts were still one and 
the same. 

From this time forward, polemical contests with 
eminent scholars of the day began to occur at frequent 
intervals. While ordinary people flocked to his Mutt 
like bees to a honey-comb to drink deep of his honeyed 
utterances, Pandits with high pretensions to learning 
became restlessly jealous to hear of his fame. They 


could not bear to hear of a new star of greater 
magnitude and lustre than themselves, appearing 
in the galaxy of letters. They therefore journeyed to 
Udupi in numbers to obtain a first-hand acquaintance 
with the new celebrity. 

Achuta Preksha held an important position among 
the brotherhood of Sadhoos. He kept an open door of 
hospitality to visitors in general and to scholarly guests 
in particular. It chanced that a Sanyasi friend of his 
was his, guest at Udupi with a large number of camp 
followers including some respectable Pandits. These 
learned men used to engage Sri Madhva in friendly 
parleys on miscellaneous topics. They were skilful 
logicians and prided themselves a bit on their special 
knowledge. On one of these occasions, the discus- 
sion became warm and animated. The point was 
whether " Inference" was entitled to value as an inde- 
pendent source of knowledge. Perception, Inference, 
and Testimony, are usually regarded as the main sour- 
ces of human knowledge. We act on a belief in the 
veracity of our senses. We act likewise on the testi- 
mony of reliable persons. In the same manner, we 
use the reasoning faculty and draw Inferences from 
proper grounds, Sri Madhva maintained that this 
source of human knowledge was far inferior in value 
to Perception and Testimony. This position was 
stoutly opposed by his brethcrn. 

The Nyaya, Vaisheshika, Sankhya and Yoga sys- 
tems of philosophy uphold Anumana or Inference as an 
authority of paramount value. They do not concede 
the superiority of Pratyaksha (Perception) or Sabda 
(word) in any sense. As systems resting the weight 
of their tenets on " Reason," they are commonly 
referred to as " Haitukas." 


Sri Madhva argued that if " Inference " did not 
rest on Perception or Testimony as its basis in the 
last resort, most extravagant deductions and inductions 
may be drawn from any given data. His opponents, 
being masters and admirers of Haituka schools, 
challenged the soundness of this proposition. 

By way of illustration, they tried by means of. 

syllogism to establish that spirit and matter were 
separate entities. Sri Madhva met them by counter 
syllogisms of equal cogency. Then, the controversi- 
alists exchanged positions. Sri Madhva again 
proved irresistible. He said that if we choose not to 
recognise the authority of sense-experience, if we set 
aside the testimoiw of speech, writings, and revelations, 
pure unaided reasoning can establish no truth what* 
soever, for, every argument implies postulates of some 
kind based on the Sense-experience of the arguer, or 
the word of some reliable personage, be he God or 
man, in the ultimate. 

It was felt that Sri Madhva's demonstration was 
convincing, though his position was at the outset 
deemed somewhat startling. The skill and facility 
with which he handled the technicalities of Anumana, 
was the subject of universal applause. He had shown 
himself perfectly at ease amidst a bewildering babel 
of propositions, middle terms, and deductions. His 
opponents had prided themselves on their scholarship 
in this branch of study as a speciality. The assembly 
were completely disabused of this illusion. At the end 
of the proceedings, they felicitated him on his powers 
of reasoning and voted thatihe was verily a prodigious 
" Anumana Theertha." 

So far, the polemics were chiefly confined to 
questions of purely academical interest. Lot6 of 



Vaiseshikas came, one after another, entered the lists, 
displayed their skill by balancing themselves on some 
tight rope of hair-splitting logical gymnastics, and 
were speedily silenced by more wonderful feats per- 
formed by Ananda Theertha. 

We now enter on a new phase of these contro- 
versies. Hereafter, the discussions were attended 
with far-reaching results. They were part of a system- 
atic campaign against dissenters. 

I have already noticed in a previous chapter, that 
South Canara was a great strong-hold ofjainismat 
least, if not of Buddhism too, Tuluva country is said 
to resemble Nepal to a large extent in respect to the 
design and pattern of the Betoos, Basties, and 
Stambas, abounding in both countries. There were 
Budhist Pandits of considerable reputation who could 
expound and defend the doctrines and practices of 
Budhism, and hold their own against Brahminical 
attacks. In this District, and many other parts of 
India, Buddhism survived as a living faith, as it does 
even now, notwithstanding the supposed overthrow 
of the system by the Brahminical ascendency led by 
Sri Sankara and Sri Ramanuja. Sri Madhva rubbed 
shoulders with many an adversary of this persuasion. 
During the period under review, one such Budhist of 
reputed leadership, Budha Sagara by name, came to 
Achuta Preksha's Mutt, accompanied by Vadi Simha 
renowned as a Tarkika Scholar. Sri Madhva was 
then in a different Mutt of his own, away from Udupi. 
These people came avowedly to engage him in a 
philosophical contest and defeat him if possible. 
Achuta Preksha sent for Sri Mad Ananda Thedrtha, 
who promptly answered the summons. Then ensued 
a most animated contest. A large concourse of people 


thronged to listen, and eminent umpires took part in 
the debate to decide the issue. Vadi Simha was the 
first to lead the attack. In a long peroration, he 
summed up as many as eighteen alternative positions 
of attack, to destroy Sri Madhva's possible positions. 
But Sri Madhva was quite equal to the occasion. 
His dignified mien and dauntless bearing produced 
a thrill of awe, and silence. Vadi Simha could 
proceed no longer, as he was unable to meet 
the points raised in reply. Budhi Sagara next 
took up the gauntlet, but fared no better than 
his predecessor. Being greatly discomfited at 
the result, these two Pandits pleaded for an adjourn- 
ment of the debate. Sri Madhva forced them to 
acknowledge that they were worsted for the time. 
They did so, and the meeting dispersed for the day, to 
meet again on the morrow. Next day, people assem- 
bled again to enjoy the continuation of the intellectual 
wrestle. But lo and behold, Vadi Simha and Budhi 
Sagara had both decamped overnight. Thus ended a 
highly sensational episode early in the career of our 
great Acharya. The sensation thus created among the 
thoughtful men gave a further shake to the foundations 
of old beliefs. Men came to think that they were no 
longer to accept doctrines and usages entirely on trust 
because they bore the sanction of age on their brow. 
Men felt the vibration of a new life in the atmosphere 
breathed by Sri Madhva. They felt that his presence 
filled it with a new ozone which inspired spiritual 
health and strength. Doubts, partial unbeliefs, vague 
longings, followed by a general unrest and a spirit of 
inquiry, were brewing commotion, and served as sure 
premonitions of an impending charge. Sri Madhva 
was felt to be the source of the new spirit, the fountain 
of new currents of thought, whose energy was destined, 


t<? vivify society and kindle a new light in Brahmin 
hom^s brighter than electric tongues of flame to 
guide men's erring steps in the Forward Path of 
salvation. Thus, the foundation was laid and the mater- 
ials got ready for the great edifice of Sri Madhva's 
message. Understanding the signs of the times, 
he began to direct his powers and energies towards 
the chief point of attack in the old fortress of Sankara's 
system. He followed up his criticism of Ishta Sidhi, 
by vigorous attacks on Sankara's Sootra Bhashya. 
This wa$ a stronghold not likely to surrender at dis- 
cretion. Achuta Preksha clung with great tenacity to 
its teachings. From time to time, Ananda Theertha took 
up a discussion of this work, and exposed its faults and 
fallacies. Achuta Preksha was reluctant to yield, even 
when his reason was convinced. A partiality born of 
habit, a fondness born of the midnight oil consumed 
for a whole life-time in mastering its contents, made 
him impatient of criticism. It was his pet fetish, and 
he would not give it up without a struggle. He al- 
lowed the force of Sri Madhva s destructive criticism. 
It was all very well to criticise and pick holes, he said, 
bijt Sri Madhva had not replaced it by a commentary 
of his own. So Achuta Preksha challenged him to 
write one if he could. An elderly ascetic of Likucha 
descent who happened to stay there, added his exhorta- 
tion on the same lines. This challenge was, of course, 
accepted. Old Madhyageha paid occasional visits, 
when Sri Madhva was winning laurels in this manner. 
On one of these occasions, Sri Madhva was arguing 
in his matchless style and fluency with a number of 
Tharkika opponents about the demerits of Sankara 
Bhashya. Madyageha's eyes were filled with tears 
of joy, and his heart almost melted with emotion, ^t 
the glory of the young ascetic who had once played and 

x.] sri ma&hva's tour through southern inpia. 93 

lisped on his knees, whom he had hugged and fondled 
in his bosom — but who now had grown so great — the 
delight not of his eyes and heart alone, but of all eyes 
and all hearts. 



Very soon after his ordination, Sri Madhva pro- 
posed to start on a pilgrimage to the Ganges. But 
Achuta Preksha Charya would not consent to one of 
such tender years undertaking such a perilous journey. 
They say that an unseen voice declared that Ganga 
herself would visit the local tank within three days 
and would repeat the visit every twelve years. The 
proposed pilgrimage was abandoned, because the 
Guru refused to be parted from the pupil. 

Master and pupil made a stay of some duration 
at Udupi, meeting many a Pandit in friendly or serious 
controversies. But Sri Madhva could not reconcile 
himself long to such a stay-at-home life. His mission 
summoned him to travel through the country and 
preach his views broadcast. The rules of the sacred 
order forbade a permanent dwelling, for, this would 
drift him into the virtual luxuries of a house-holder. 
TheSanyasin was expected by the Hindu Law to live, 
with no thoughts of the morrow, on the precarious 
charity of the public. It was expected that he should 
be ever on the move, and live contented with 
whatever God chose to put in his way, by way of food 
or shelter. 

Sri Madhva, true to the law, begged leave to 
start on some pilgrimage. The Guru yielded at \mt, 


and agreed to accompany him on a pilgrimage through 
the chief holy places of Southern India. 

Our modern ideas of a Sanyasin and his tour 
are largely associated with retinues and paraphernalia. 
When we think of an ascetic, our minds rest on the 
princely Matadhipathies, who travel in palanquins, 
maintain horses, elephants, and camels, keep an armed 
guard, and carry about plenty of silver and gold. We 
are not used to Sanyasins that carry all their luggage 
on their backs, consisting only of a few Saligram 
stones and metalic images. The spectacle of a 
pedestrian monk whose bed is Mother Earth, and 
whose covering is the blue vault of heaven, is, to us, 
rather rare. 

The India of the twentieth century is not the 
India of the Medieval times. We are cast on an age 
when the ancient ideals and methods have undergone 
a wholsesale revolution. Our idea of locomotion is 
associated with motor-cars and steam-engines. We 
are surrounded by facilities of communication 
unknown before, fine roads and metalled high-ways, 
Australian bays, and spring carriages. Ours is the age 
when time and distance have been annihilated by the 
achievements of machinery. Jules Verne proves that 
it is possible to travel round the globe in eighty days 
with a simple portmanteau containing a few bank- 
notes. We are getting accustomed to have our wants 
supplied, by turning a handle, or pressing a button, 
as if in a house of enchantment. 

At the time of our history, Southern India com- 
prised numerous small kingdoms the sovereigns 
of which claimed to be independent of one another. 
The West Coast consisted of three parcels, Kon- 
kana, Tuluva, and Kerala. The coast of Coro* 


mandal included Telingana, Dravida, Chola, and 
Pandiya regions. The interior hedged in by the 
strips of the East Coast and the West Coast had 
divisions such as Andhra, Carnata, and Konga. 

Much is not known of the political, social, and 
economical condition of the period. There was one 
note-worthy element of homogeneity in the circum- 
stance, that the Mahomedan hordes of the north had 
not yet descended to the south of the Dekhan. The 
indigenous civilization still remained pure and un- 
affected by extraneous influence. The iconoclasm of 
the Mussulman, had not yet broken the idols of our 
temples, and introduced any ' Gosha ' into our 

Just north of Konkana, was Maharastra with 
its capital at Dowlatabad, under the rule of the 
Yadava dvnasty. They held sway for several centur- 
ies until overthrown by the Bahmini Mahomedans, 
in 1347 A.D. 

The kingdom of Vijianagar was on the eve of 
growing into the most powerful empire of India. 
Vijianagar exists now as a pile of ruins, the debris of a 
forgotten greatness, resorted to only by antiquarians 
and archaeologists. There lies hidden beneath the 
debris, a city as vast as London, with all its towers 
and turrets, palaces and temples, forts and barracks, 
pulled brick by brick and stone by stone, and scattered 
for miles by the vindictive onslaught of an infuriated 
soldiery. This is the Empire that turned a new 
chapter of glory and power in 1336 A.D. under the 
joint exertions of Bukka I, and Vidyaranya. 

The ruins of Hampi call up memories of sad- 
ness such as no cataclysms of nature can awaken. We 
revere Pampakshetra, as part of the great Dandakaran* 


ya immortalized by Valmiki. It was here that Sri 
Ramachandra met Soogreeva and Hanuman. It was 
here that he performed marvels of archery. 

During the days of Sri Madhva, Vijianagar 
was a fairly prosperous kingdom. Vijia Dhwaja had 
built the city in 1150 A.D., and his successors were 
strengthening and consolidating its resources. The 
zenith of power was reached after the time of Sri 

Pampakshetra is of sacred memory to us, even 
now, for the additional reason that the banks of 
the Tungabhadra at this spot afforded the last resting 
place of many a great Sanyasin that succeeded Sri 
Madhva in the line of Pontiffs. Sage Padmanabha 
Theertha and Narahari Theertha had their Brindavans 
on these banks. It was necessarily the scene of their 
holy labours during the period that they honoured the 
priestly throne. 

To the South of Vijianagar, the kingdom com- 
prising Mysore and the West Coast was under the rule 
of the descendants of one Vishnuvardhana. This the 
king whom Sri Ramanuja converted to Vaishnavaism 
in the twelfth century (11 04-1 141 A.D.). It was he that 
broke the power of the western Chalukyas. Narasimha 
III and his son Bellala III covered the whole period 
of Sri Madhva's career (1254 to 1342 A.D.) 

It was a time of profound peace and of en- 
lightened sovereigns. It was the period when the 
country came to be studded with marvels of architect- 
ural skill It was a time peculiarly marked by 
religious upheavals. 

In these conditions favourable to reform, Sri 
Madhva set out from Udupi with his Guru and travelled 


south by easy marches. It is certain that he passed 
by Mangalore, crossed the Netravati and reached the 
town of Vishnumangalam. Beyond this, the route 
taken is far from clear. 

Authentic evidence fixes Vishnumangalam as the 
village going by this name about 27 miles south of 
Mangalore. For reasons not easy to guess at this 
distance of time, Vishnumangalam seems to have been 
a favourite place of sojourn with Sri Madhva He 
often spent weeks, if not months, in this town 
camping in the temple of Vishnu. There were evid- 
ently many people here who owed allegiance to 
Achuta Preksha, as their Guru. Numerous entertain- 
ments were given to this party in this town on a large 
scale. Sri Madhva was the centre of general attrac- 
tion. His youth and learning was the absorbing topic 
of talk in public and private conversations. His 
popularity brought on daily entertainments. He was 
feted with sumptuous Bikshas, in one of which he 
chose to exhibit an extraordinary feat of digestion. 

When Sri Madhva had just finished a heavy 
dinner and done full justice to it, the host brought a 
large bunch of 200 plantains, and begged of the Master 
to partake of the same. He quietly took them, and ate 
away every fruit of the bunch, without the least exerr 
tion or difficulty The other guests of the occasion and 
the assembled people were struck with amazement. 
While no other person could have eaten half a dozen 
fruits under the circumstances, Sri Madhva had gulped 
fully two hundred. They rubbed their eyes with 
wonder and perplexity, and began to question him. 
They asked him eagerly how he had managed what 
appeared to them an impossibility. The Master 
replied that he possessed a digestion of unusual 


vitality. To give them an idea, he said that the 
animal heat within him was a flame as thick as the 
thumb, capable of easily consuming any food and in 
any quantity. 

Sriman Madhva Vijia mentions Trevandram as 
the next place of importance visited by the touring 
party, after leaving Vishnumangalam. We are left to 
conjuncture, as best as we may, the precise route 
taken by the party in ariving at Ananta Sayana. It is 
possible that Sri Madhva proceeded southwards 
through Calicut and Cochin, or took an easterly direc- 
tion avoiding the numerous estuaries and back-water 
inroads of the sea, that bar the way at short intervals 
throughout the coast line. 

If there was no trunk road along the sea- 
shore, as exists now, and if the boat service was not 
very efficient as might be presumed, it is possible that 
Sri Madhva avoided a crow-flight route to the south. 
It is near Vishnumangalam that the flag-staff still 
stands, warning travellers against setting foot in 

By going westward through the plateau of 
Mysore and Coimbatore, it was not difficult to cross 
the ghauts at some favourable point and descend 
into Travancore. 

It will be seen as we proceed, that towards 
the latter part of his career at least, Sri Madhva 
moved much in the strip of country lying between the 
rivers Kumara Dhara and Netravati. This is the 
Saridantara doab referred to in the 16th chapter of 
Madhva Vijia. The Master toured much in this 
land, preached to many, and converted not a few of 
the learned men of those parts. The holy pond 


known as Kanva Theertha lies near this tract. The 
great Aswatha tree beneath which Sri Madhva ordain- 
ed and founded the brotherhood of the eight Udupi 
Monks on a single day, is still in evidence. A line 
drawn from Kunibla and Vishnumangalam on the 
west, to the peak of Subhramanya on the east, touches 
a large number of places intimately connected with 
Sri Madhva's episodes in the tail end of his career. 

This circumstance suggests the conjecture that 
it was not mere chance that led his steps in that 
direction. A few miles from Kanva to the East, is 
Kadathala, where an entire copy of Sri Madhva's 37 
works lies buried in the ground. Ujara and Nerankee 
are other places of interest in Sri Madhva's life. 
Madyathala is midway from the sea to the Subhra- 
manya peak. Herein remains one of the eight 
Vedavyasu Saligrams brought by the Master. 

On these facts, it will be pardonable to guess 
that Sri Madhva had from the beginning some kind of 
ties or associations in this quarter, some good reason 
to turn to the east after reaching Vishnumangalam. 
It may be that there were numerous families owing 
allegiance to his Mutt already, in this doab, or it may 
be that this was the land of old kinship and family ties, 
the country where the community of Madhyageha and 
Achuta Preksha lived, for the most part. While on 
the one hand, it is possible that mere chance led Sri 
Madhva to visit these places late in life, it is equally 
possible that he was connected with them from the 
very beginning by ties of which we have no know- 
ledge and that he visited them even in his very first 

In this connection, it may not be unimportant 
to mention a tradition, though it is not referred to 

idb the Life aNd te actings or ski MAbHVA [chaI 3 . 

in Madhva Vijia. The Southernmost Taluq of the 
Coimbatore District is known as Udamalpet. The Ana- 
malai Hills extend a great deal into this Taluq. Going 
about twelve miles from Udamalpet, one reaches 
a range of fairly high hills with a river flowing at 
the foot thereof. The spot presents a lovely pictures- 
que scenery. The descent of crystal water from rock 
to rock, and the soft gurgle of sporting waters hardly 
disturbs the serene solitude of the hermit's seclu- 
sion. On one side, is the rising mountain stretching 
out longitudinally, as far as eye can see. At the 
foot of it, is the river, nestling, as it were, by its base, 
and flowing parallel to the mountain. Not a grain of 
sand or mud floats in the water to disturb its clearness. 
It is all rock, the bed and banks. On the banks of the 
river, opposite the hill, there is a shrine sacred to the 
Trinity, the Trimurthies of the Hindu Pantheon, 
Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva. It is even now a favourite 
resort of the neighbouring country, on all auspicious 
occasions. Pilgrims are numerous who visit the shrine 
for discharging all kinds of vows. 

In the middle of this river, a large flat rock 
rests on three boulders, forming a natural bridge, and 
allowing a free flow of the current underneath. The 
rock is sufficiently spacious to accomodate at least a 
hundred persons sitting down for a dinner. Tradition 
calls this by the name of " Madhvarayan Parai " 
meaning the rock of Madhvaraya. They add that 
Sri Madhva travelled to Trevandram by crossing 
the river (which is fordable easily at any point) 
and threading the footpaths of the hills leading 
to the State of Travancore. This mountain — 
forms in fact the boundary between the modera 
British India and the said Native State. It is not 
therefore improbable that Sri Madhva took this 


particular route on his way to the temple of Ananta 
Sayana, It is likely that he spent sometime in the 
mantap of the sacred Thrimoorthi shrine, and that 
during his sojourn, he spent long hours sitting on the 
rock bearing his name, and making tapas (meditative 
prayers) after his bath. One explanation, that is some- 
times gussed is, that Sri Madhva set this rock on the 
Tripod-like stones, and hence it bears his name. But 
this feat was performed, not here, but in the Mysore 
Province, a" a place known as Ambu Theertha near 
Kalasa village, Balehonur Taluq, 13 14 L., 75° 26' E. ; 
on the right bank of Bhadra. (This rock contains an 
inscription to this effect, — No. 79 Kadur District, 
Mudgere). Thus, this guess about the origin of Madhva- 
rayan Parai is made in ignorance of the Ambu 
Theertha rock whose inscription contains convincing 
proof of the episode. But there is no ground to 
reject the tradition that Sri Madhva honoured 
this spot by a stay of some duration. Dilapidated and 
broken statues and images of great size, with the ruins 
of edifices, testify to the existence of a large village 
or temple, once, close to this shrine. Hence, it is not 
at all unlikely that Sri Madhva bent his holy steps in 
this direction, attracted as much by the short cut it 
offered to reach Ananta Sayana, as by the charming 
solitude and seclusion of the neighbourhood. Sri 
Madhva would have loved to look at the lofty scenery 
of the hills, enjoy the inviting seclusion, take his day- 
break baths in the crystal springs, do tapas in 
peaceful solitudes under the shelter of stupendous 
stones, a scenery calculated to throw a spell on any 
person of introspective leanings and habits, and 
peculiarly attractive to one of Sri Madhva's bent of 
mind as a retirement (Asramam) of Rishis. 

t02 trite UFli AtfD fEAcrtlNGS Or Sfti MADriVA [chap. 

The conjecture that he passed through what is 
Coimbatore District now, receives some support and 
corroboration from the circumstance that an idol 
of Sri Madhva was an object of worship in one of 
the temples of a village called Pala Tholuvu near the 
Uttukuli Railway Station of this District. This 
village had many flourshing temples including one 
dedicated to Hanuman. The ruins in the vicinity 
of the village testify to this. During the troublous 
convulsions of the Ante-British History, these 
temples suffered like thousands of others in this 
unhappy country. Sri Madhva's image was lying 
uncared for like other images, until, very recently, the 
venerable Head of Mula Bagal Mutt, took possession 
of it. It is now included among the idols worshipped 
in the Brindawana Tope on the banks of the Cauvery 
near the Cauvery station of the Madras Railway. 
It is a significant fact that such an image should have 
been found in Pala Tholuvu. It may be that Sri Madhva 
stopped for a time in this village on his way to 
Thirmoorthy hills and Trevandram, and that he left 
such a strong impression on the inhabitants that they 
commemorated the stay by a small statue. 

I have probably taken far too much space in 
pressing the claims of a mere conjecture. My anxiety 
is to place on record whatever materials exist, as 
the foundation of further research. I feel no partiality 
or bias in fovour of the supposition thus discussed, and 
shall feel no disappointment to find myself mistaken. 

By some route or other, the party arrived at 
Trevandram and spent some time in the holy 
precincts of Sri Padmanabha temple, while staying in 
this town. Sti Madhva found himself thrown into 
unpleasant contact with the then head of the 


Sringeri monastery. It chanced that Vidya Sankara 
Swami of the Sringeri Matt, the lineal represent- 
ative of the original Sri Sankara, was also touring 
towards Rameswaram. The Sringeri list of 
geneological succession notes 1228 A.D. as the year in 
which this abbot became Pontiff. 

For many obvious reasons, the meeting of Sri 
Madhva and Vidya Sankara was unpleasant and un- 
fortunate. The former was a young Reformer, full of 
enthusiasm and brimming over with energy and ardour. 
The latter was the head of an institution which had a 
sort of undisputed sway so far, and was in command 
of wealth and influence. Vidya Sankara's position 
hardly admitted of a tolerating spirit and meekness. 
He could not have looked upon Sri Madhva as other 
than a heretic, and could not have repressed a smile of 
disdain from his own standpoint. 

When the interview came on, a stormy altercation 
was the result. The belief is that Vidya Sankara was - 
no other than Sri Sankara himself re-incarnated. 

A calm demeanour and dispassionate argument 
was out of the question when the Sringeri Monk found 
himself bearded by a mere youth. Where he expected 
submission, loyalty, and respectful address, he met 
with defiance and challenge. He was therefore com- 
pletely put out. 

It is obvious that an academical disputation took 
place and that the subject was no other than Sri 
Sankara's Adwaita. Sri Madhva had, by this time, 
become quite an adept in dealing with the weak points 
of monism. He levelled his blows with firmness and 
courage, and desisted not, until the adversary 


Vidya Sankara deemed it presumption for Sri 
Madhva to criticise Sankara Bashya without having 
written a commentary, himself, to take its place. 
When arguments failed, the well-known device of 
abusing " the plaintiffs Attorney " was largely resort- 
ed to. The challenge was thrown out that Sri 
Madhva ought to write a 4 A Bhashyam ' if he could. 
Sri Madhva retorted that nothing was nearer his 
heart than to produce such a commentary, and that he 
was thankful that no penal code had penalized his 
intention to produce one. 

At last, they parted in anger, quite unreconciled 
and unconvinced. Both left Trevandram en route to 
Cape Comorin and the island of Rameswaram. They 
did not meet again before reaching this last place. 

Some months must have elapsed in the interval. 
One day, when Sri Madhva was going to the sea for 
bath, he met Vidya Sankar again. This was in 
Rameswaram. The acrimonious meeting of Ananta 
Sayana came to be repeated with ten-fold bitterness. 
An animated and stormy altercation ensued. They 
sat down for a contest. Sri Madhva challenged his 
opponent to a disputation, the penalty whereof should 
be, to destroy the sceptre of the vanquished debatant. 
Madhva Vijia does not expressly say whether the 
challenge was accepted and whether anybody's sceptre 
was broken. There was a contest and Sri Madhva 
came out victorious. 

It was now the month of Ashadha when the 
Sanyasin should, by the rules of the order, pitch his 
camp somewhere, and cease to travel for four months, 
under a vow. Sri Madhva camped in Rameswaram 
where Vidya Sankara also fixed his camp for the 


Vidya Sankara tried his level best to make it hot 
for Sri Madhva to stay here. Various annoyances, 
small and great, were tried, in vain, to force him to 
leave the place. He tried a sort of guerilla warfare by 
devising endless petty harassments, so as to make the 
sojourn anything but peaceful and comfortable to Sri 
Madhva. But Sri Madhva remained quite unruffled 
by the mischiefs, lie showed himself quite above 
pettiness, and treated the tactics of the enemy as 
beneath contempt. If Vidya Sankara expected 
Sri Madhva to break the vow, and depart in haste, or 
expected him to engage in a public quarrel so as to 
break public tranquillity and get into the throes of 
law he was sorely mistaken. 

After a stay of four months in Rameswaram, Sri 
Madhva and his party journeyed home through the 
Pandya and Chola country on the coromandel coast. 
He stopped for some time at the island of Srirangam 
to visit the famous temple of Sri Ranganath, situated 
at the confluence of the expansive Cau very and 
Coleroon. This was, as it is even now, the most 
important centre of Vaishnava faith in Southern India. 
Proceeding from Srirangam, Sri Madhva took many 
an important place in the Kingdom ofTanjore. Among 
them, one is noteworthy. Near Shyali and Chidam- 
baram, is the famous temple of Sri Mush nam — dedicat- 
ed to Bhu Varaha. It is now a village in the British 
Taluq of Chidambaram, South Arcot District. 

The Chronicle of Sri Mushnamcontainsa reference 
to Sri Madhvas visit to this place. It mentions a 
holy pond known as Danda Thecrtha as sanctified 
and created by Sri Madhva's Danda (sceptre). It is 
said that the Acharya observed while staying in a 
Brahmin house where he was treated with great hospi- 


tality, that the village suffered much from scarcity of 
water. He took compassion on a pregnant lady, and 
created this Theertha out of his Danda, thus conferring 
on the hospitable host and the villagers, the boon of 
an unfailing fountain of water. This Danda Theertha, 
it may be noted, claims an origin similar to the Danda 
Theertha near the Acharya's village of birth, where also, 
it is said, that a fountain was tapped by the mysterious 
aid of the Acharya's wand, in order to furnish his late 
Guru (the village school-master) with a perennial 
flow of water for his lands. 

In this return journey, the Acharya had of course 
to meet many Pandits of South India in public 
assemblies. He addressed many assemblies of learning 
and vigorously expounded the true import of the 

Once, in a temple on the banks of the Chandragiri 
the Aiytareya Upanishad was the subject of a sensa- 
tional discussion. In this connection, Sri Madhva told 
his hearers that every Vedic utterance conveyed a 
triple meaning, that the verses of the Mahabharata had 
as many as ten meanings, and that each word of the 
Vishnu nomenclature (Vishnu Sahasranamas) con- 
veyed a hundred. The audience seized upon this 
assertion, and challenged Sri Madhva to illustrate his 
statement by expounding the ioo meanings of the 
Sahasranama. The Acharya began with Visva the ist, 
asking his learned hearers to follow him with care. 
As the exposition proceeded, the admiring Pandits 
felt staggered, as they could no longer follow the 
grammatical intricacies, and much less retain them 
in memory. Sri Madhva went on with the exposition, 
without the least effort, until the Pandits begged of 
him to stop, saying, that though he was quite 


competent to substantiate his assertion, their limited 
intelligence and knowledge did not enable them to 
grasp his interpretations and follow the thread. 

Another temple on the banks of the Payaswini 
(Chandragiri) witnessed an equally sensational 
gathering. A large number of Pandits from all parts 
of South India had met there to earn royal rewards for 
merits ascertained by the old system of Vwa voce exa- 
minations. Sri Madhva came and halted here on his 
homeward journey. The occasion was naturally avail- 
ed of, for a great polemic assemblage. Various verses 
in the Vedic literature formed the text of prolonged 
argument. Sri Madhva explained his own position 
with citations of authority. Some were satisfied, and 
others not. The youth of the Acharya was perhaps 
one circumstance that stood in the way of his being at 
once universally accepted. People do have a preju- 
dice against youthful wisdom and a partiality for hoary 
age. When Sri Madhva conclusively showed that the 
word " ap&la" in a Vedic context could mean only 
leper and nothing else, the Pandits nodded their 
heads in doubt, though unable to meet his reasoning. 
The Acharya left the place, simply saying to them 
" very well, if my words do not satisfy you, you may 
refer to a learned Pandit who is going to pay a visit 
to this place, ere long ". And so it transpired that a 
Pandit did come, and that he confirmed the view of 
Sri Madhva, just as he had foretold. 

In due course, the party returned to Udupi, 
and offered worship at the feet of Anananteswara 
by a service of hearty thanks-giving for the suc- 
cessful accomplishment of the tour. It was an 
arduous journey to accomplish in those days. Starting 
from Udupi, he literally made a full tour of South 


India, by chiefly taking the west coast on the way to 
Rameswaram, and taking the east, in the return 
journey. He'touched at important centres, and paved 
the way for his great mission by meeting the luminaries 
and celebrities of the day, in Viva Voce discussions. 
He attacked the official head of the old school, and 
shook the foundations of the old edifice. This meeting 
must have opened men's eyes a bit, to see that robes 
and sceptres were not by themselves unimpeach- 
able passports of knowledge, and that innovations 
might be tolerated, if founded on good reasons and 
authority. Men whose minds were already suffering 
from acute doubts, but who had not dared to speak 
out their minds regarded the meeting and the tour as 
an epoch-making event and they no longer spoke 
of the Sankarite monastery and its institutions with 
bated breath. They rejoiced to see a new star in the 
galaxy, that bade fair to out-shine all other constella- 
tions, by its radiant splendour. They realized that" a 
new sun had appeared, by the side of which, the old 
lamps were not even as good as rushlights. 

We may pause a minute, to ponder over the 
results of this tour, lest we should fail to realize its 
full import, as we are apt to do, it we do not weigh 
it well in our minds. A young ascetic bent on intro- 
ducing innovations,more or less radical, into the strong- 
hold of conservatism, travelled through strange lands 
with very uncertain prospects of welcome. He en- 
countered the powerful chief of the opposing sect (the 
then prevailing sect) at Trevandrum and also at 
Rameswaram. Pitted against such a powerful enemy 
and encountering the thousand and one troubles and 
annoyances incidental to such an unhappy coincid- 
ence and contact, Sri Madhva travelled through 


inhospitable countries, and overcame opposition by 
the sheer force of his great personality. He 
would have been nowhere as against Vidya Sankara 
if he had been less daring, less learned, and less 
resourceful than he was. He fascinated everyone that 
came in contact with him, by the magic of his ringing 
voice, by the magnetism of his delivery, by the vigour 
ol his discourses, by the earnestness of his manner 
and convictions, and above all, by the sincerity, piety, 
and purity of his simple life. Alter Vidya Sankara's 
discomfiture, his difficulties greatly diminished. The 
great ball of progress that had remained stuck firm and 
immoveable in the old order of things, and lay imbedded 
deep in the mire of conservatism and habit, was 
lifted upand rolled into motion. It was a great task 
to overcome the powerful resistance offered by the 
inertia of orthodox beliefs. But the task was accom- 
plished. Doubts arose and these led to inquiry. The 
march of Sri Madhva along the coast of Coromandel 
via Srirangam and Sri Mushnam, was not altogether 
on a bed of thorns, though it was not yet a bed of 
roses. The assemblies of learning did not descend 
into pettiness in their opposition. They were pre- 
pared to listen and to appreciate, instead of mobbing or 
stoning him as an innovator. This was, of course, a 
hopeful, promising, preparation of the field, to sow 
the seeds of His Message. He had good reason to 
hope that the soil was not barren, to hope that the 
harvest would be far from despicable. 



It was now seven years since the Ordination. 
Sri Madhva had spent a large portion of this period 
in the southern tour. Ever since he bearded 
Vasudeva, Vadi-Simha, and Budhi Sagara, he had 
received challenges from friendly as well as hostile 
quarters, to write out, if he could, commentaries of 
the old scriptures, so as to demonstrate the tenability 
and soundness of his views. Few people valued a 
merely destructive criticism, for, this was deemed 
unconvincing and inconclusive To friends and foes, 
Sri Madhva pledged his word, that he would bring 
out a convincing interpretation of the Sutras and the 

All the time that Mis Holiness was meeting 
scholars in discussion, his mind was actively engaged 
in collecting, collating, and annotating the texts forming 
the basic platform of Dualism. He was, day by day, 
pushing conclusions to a head. 

A dispassionate study and review o( the Shastras 
led him to build up the frame-work of Dwaita. The 
collective drift of Vedic Scriptures, the true Vedanta of 
Badarayana, led him to hold that Jeeva and God were 
not and never could be, one. 

The Bhagavad Gita of Sri Krishna was the first 
work chosen by His Holiness for annotating. Bhaga- 
vad Gita is the book of books adored in every house- 
hold in India. It is the epitome of what is truly 
grand in the field of Indian philosophy and religion. 
Sri Sankara and Sri Ramanuja had devoted their 


talents and eloquence to it to illuminate its hidden 
meanings. Sri Madhva opined that both of them had 
missed the mark. He felt the need for a thoroughly 
new work dealing with the very kernel of Sri Krishna's 
immortal teachings. During the sojourn in South 
India or soon after his return to Udupi, His Holiness 
prepared a commentary of the Bhagavad Gita, 
characterised by brevity of expressions and profundity 
of thought 

In respect to the publication of the system which 
he chalked out and formulated in this great work, Sri 
Madhva was in no hurry to precipitate matters. He 
had arranged in his own mind, a plan of operations 
for approaching the public in proper time and promul- 
gating his tenets. He probably wished that the 
contemplated commentary of the Brahma Sutras, too, 
should not be delayed long after the appearance of his 
Gita Bhashya. 

His plan was first of all to visit the Himalayan 
hermitage of VedaVyasa — what is usually spoken of as 
Badarikashrama. It was reputed that Vyasa still lived 
there with Rishis. He longed to pay his respects at 
the lotus-feet of (Vyasa and obtain his approbation for 
embarking on evangelisation and reformation. 

Having made up his mind to start, he addressed 
attention to make the necessary preparations. A 
small but devoted band of followers promised to 
accompany him. They were prepared to brave any 
perils on the way. Of these picked men, ascetic 
Satyatheertha was the most prominent. This was a 
Sanyasin who had been ordained and initiated by 
Achuta-Preksha himself. It was he that ultimately in- 
herited the succession and continued the line of the 
Bandarkare and Bheemanakattey Mutts. Though 


formally the chela of Achuta Preksha, he was an 
ardent follower of Sri Madhva. He had attached 
himself with singular devotion to Sri Madhva's 
Mutt, and was ever engaged in holy studies under the 

It only remained for Sri Madhva to seek permis- 
sion of his Guru, to depart. It was evidently clear 
that Achuta Preksha would not, or could not, accom- 
pany the party. Either he was too old, or too feeble, to 
attempt a Himalayan ascent, or perhaps there were 
other causes. It was urged that Sri Madhva had set 
his heart on this pilgrimage, years before, and that it 
had been abandoned in deference to the Guru's wishes. 
Sri Madhva was much older now, and could be relied 
upon to accomplish the journey and return in safety. 
He pleaded earnestly for permission, on the ground 
that the visit to Badari was the dearest ambition of 
his heart. 

A great conflict of considerations Pro and Con 
produced a severe struggle in the Guru's mind in 
weighing the circumstances of this request. A trip to 
Kasi was awful enough, but a climb up the Himalayas 
was verily a staggering idea. His mind was filled 
with alarm to think of the probable and possible risks 
and perils such a daring enterprise implied. On the 
other hand, an inner voice whispered to him not to 
judge of Sri Madhva by ordinary standards, not to 
view him as of the ordinary mould. It struck him 
that this pupil of his would be the High Priest of a 
great mission, and that the hidden purposes of such a 
mission required his presence all over the country. 
He felt that it was not proper to keep him detained by 
silken strings out of personal motives or selfish 


Thinking over the matter thus, and taking a reason- 
able view, he was inclined to give him leave to set out. 
When the point was pressed home that the pilgrimage 
was undertaken not from idle curiosity but for a deep 
and high purpose, the Guru granted the prayer. Before 
taking final leave, Sri Madhva offerred to his Guru, a 
copy of his Rhagavat Gita commentary as some 
recompense for the impending separation. He wished 
and intended that, during his long absence, Achuta 
Preksha should peruse the pages of the new work and 
ponder over their contents. 

After mentioning the fact that Sri Madhva and 
party started on this journey, " Madhva Vijia " takes 
us at a bound to the Himalayas. We are not told 
what countries were passed through, and what were 
the adventures, if any, suffered on the way. No doubt, 
the Master had his eye on Badari and made for the 
goal without tarrying anywhere a moment longer than 
was necessary. He passed through Benares and 
bathed in the Ganges on the way. But he evidently 
did not seek the famous Pandits of Kasi and speak to 
them as he had done in various centres of learning in 
Southern India. He reserved this for a future 

On the slopes of the Himalayan range, there is a 
temple dedicated to Nara Narayana. This is at an eleva- 
tion not quite beyond reach or endurance. The Master 
pitched his camp at a place known as Ananda Mutt, and 
resolved to make here a sojourn ol some length. The 
precincts were exceptionally holy and attractive. He 
felt the spiritual presence of Nara Narayana close by 
and of Vyasa in the hermitage over-head. He took 
time to arrange his programme and prepare himself 
for doing the final part of the journey. 


There was the Gita commentary to be submitted 
for approval, l He meant to lay it at their feet and 
take orders for the future. The time was come 
for putting his long-cherished ideas into execution. 
As he thought of it, he felt a thrill too solemn 
tor words. Day and night he concentrated all his 
thoughts on God, and led a life of such devotion and 
prayer as to be on the verge of Samadhi. His daily 
programme was to bathe in the early hours of the dawn 
in the chill ice-cold stream of the Ganges, regardless 
of the freezing cold, and do tapas for the rest of the 
day on a secluded boulder of rock, or within the pre- 
mises of the temple. 

When he was in the presence of the Deity, he 

used to send away all his followers and spend hours 

in the solitude of the Divine Presence. On one of 

these occasions, when it was night, he opened 

the newly composed Gita commentary and read the 

opening lines. " My prostrations to the Supreme 

Lord Narayana, full of perfect attributes and free 

from any flaw : my prostrations likewise to 

Badarayana, my Guru. 1 proceed to construe and 

interpret the Gita, a little" A voice of approval was 

heard in the solemn silence proceeding from the 

Deity of the temple. The great Father of all 

approved of the commentary and acknowledged its 

merits, Adverting to Sri Madhva's modest avowal 

that the annotation was only a meagre exposition, 

the lord allowed the expression to stand, for, 

He said, that, though Sri Madhva was competent 

to do justice to Gita, and expound all its hidden 

subtleties of thought, still, the limited intelligence of 

the reading public required a commentary that was 

bound to be meagre in order to be within their 



Sri Madliva was alone when the Lord thus 
took shape and spoke to him. His followers were 
lying down asleep or awake beyond sight. Those 
who were within earshot distinctly heard the words 
of the Lord, that the expression indicating the 
meagreness of the commentary might stand. The 
words had been accompanied by a distinct sound, as 
if made by the Lord's palms in token of drawing 
attention and approving The disciples who heard the 
words and the sound were dumb-founded with 
surprise. They thought that Sri Madhva had been 
either asleep or musing within himself. But he was 
being spoken to, by no other than the Lord. His 
commentary was being read and approved. The 
disciples heard it all and wen; simply galvanized by the 
situation. They realized what was happening. Their 
tongue clave to the roof, and their limbs felt paralysed. 
They lay where they were, lost in wonderment. 

The day dawned, and Sri Madhva inaugurated a 
new era in the world of thought, by publishing his Gita 
commentary. After ablutions and the daily round of 
Poojas, he gathered his pupils about him and 
expounded Bhagavat Gita to them according 
to the commentary. He taught them the true import 
of Sri Krishna's immortal words and expounded how 
the Supreme God meant all his creation to worship 
Him. And what a glorious book had Sri Madhva 
produced, though he had called it a meagre com- 
mentary in becoming humility ! It was read, and 
listened to with rapt attention, A veritable 
treasure of wisdom was unfolded to view. 
They were sparkling thoughts embodied in brief 
pithy phraseology that pierced into the heart 
Sri Madhva had wasted no time in ornament- 
al diction. He had not cared to bewitch or delude 


by flowers of rhetoric He was in terrible seriousness 
to unmask the. hollowness of monism in every form, 
and illuminate the true relations of God and man. 
Under the touch of the new magic, Sri Madhva's 
system shone with a light that was truly impressive. 
Order seemed to come out of chaos and contradictions. 
Every part of the Lord's utterances fitted beautifully 
into the whole and all mysticism seemed to vanish in 
the light of Sri Madhva's harmonization. The Hima- 
layan visit thus marked a red-letter-day in our 
calendar, notwithstanding the circumstance that nobody 
has cared to note the exact year, month, or date, thereof, 
literally speaking. It marks an epoch as the com- 
mencement of a new wave of thought in the progress 
of the world's religions. 

Sri Madhva made a stay of some duration in the 
holy shrine of Sri Narayana. Sri Sankarachariar 
ofAdwaita fame had extended his teachings up to 
this limit, it is said that a Nambudri Brahmin is still 
the officiating priest of this temple. There was some 
appropriateness in Sri Madhva commencing his cru- 
sade at this point the northern most limit of Sri 
Sankara's influence, and spreading it southwards far 
and wide in the Continent of Bharata. 

It was Sri Madhva's desire to soar higher to the 
wilds of the Himalayas, and visit the inaccessible 
hermitage of Vada Vyasa, known as the true Badari. 
They say that sage Badarayana dwells there with his 
chosen disciples even now, leading and teaching a 
life of indescribable holiness, Sri Madhva wished 
to present himself before the King of Rishis, and 
dedicate himself, body and soul, unto Him. He 
desired to see the great sage and be blessed for ever 
more. He longed to sit at His feet and learn 

XI,] FIRST TOUR TO BAdAri. 1 1 j> 

lessons in the mysteries of Vedanta. He ardently 
wished to lay his Gita commentary at. his lotus-feet, 
' and obtain his divine sanction for the propagation 
of Dwaita as the true import of all his -works, 
Meemamsa, Bharata, Bhaghavata, and the Puranas. 

As a preparation for this great journey, Sri 
Madhva spent his time in fasting and prayer. 
Though a holy of holies already and alwiiys, he 
considered no amonnt of piety and preparation too 
'much for the desired end. He filled his thoughts with 
Vyasa, centred his soul upon him, and lived a life of 
the severest penance and the deepest contemplation. 
He took no food for 48 days and observed a vow of 
speechless meditation during the whole period. 

They say that Sri Vyasa appeared before Sri 
Madhva one night, and invited him to go over to his 
hermitage up above. This was the consummation so 
devoutly longed for. To say that he felt a thrill, an 
ecstasy, falls far short of the actuality. Language is 
too poor a vehicle to translate the transcendental 
feelings felt by the devout in their personal communion 
with God. So, I desist from attempting a description. 

When the day dawned, Sri Madhva made haste 
to commence the onward march. He summoned his 
pupils and followers, and wrote out a few words of 
parting, for their information and consolation. 
He was still under the vow of speechlessness, and 
therefore, had to resort to writing. From a mortal 
point of view, the intended journey was not only a 
long and arduous one, but a positively dangerous one. 
No ordinary mortal could think of it. The risks were 
immense and the chance of returning very poor indeed. 
Sri Madhva therefore made his will, as it were. He 
had no worldly goods to dispose of, no thoughts of 


kith and kin, no sickly sentiment to whine over. He 
wrote: — " is holy ; Vishnu is supreme: My 
word is meant for the good of all. I leave* to pay 
respects to Vyasa ; I meiy or may not return, May God 
bless you. " The pith of the message consisted 
in declaring Vishnu, the sovereign of the universe. 
He emphasized this for the good of humanity. His 
heart had no yearnings, no longings, but simple 
blessings for mankind, and he emptied his heart by 
pouring forth a benediction, a sincere blessing, for 
the salvation ot man. 

With this, his testament was made, and he took 
leave of all. He meant to depart unaccompanied by 
any servant, follower, or companion. The ascent 
began with sun-rise. Sri Madhva climbed like a born 
mountaineer who knew his business. He seemed 
quite at home among the boulders and forest tracts, 
and leapt from hill to hill with an agility that was 
truly surprising. 

Among the pupils of the Acharya, one Satya 
Theertha was so devotedly attached to him that he 
could not consent to remain behind when Sri Madhva 
undertook the perilous journey alone. He had studied 
Aitareya thrice under the Acharya and was prepared 
to lay down his life for the Master, lie therefore set 
out to accompany Sri Madhva. 

With great difficulty, he managed to keep Sri 
Madhva within range of sight from sunrise to sunset. 
Sri Madhva took no halt for food or rest. The pathless 
wilds caused him no impediment. As for fatigue, there 
was not the slightest trace of it on him. Poor Satya 
Theertha felt that in his state oi weakness and 
exhaustion, to continue the journey was impossible. 
At about sunset, Sri Madhva turned round and 


beckoned to Satya Theertha to retreat. He waved 
his hand as a signal to go back. Satya -Theertha felt 
a gust of wind impelling him to retrace his way. 
An unseen power seemed to carry him back to his 
camp. He soon reached Ananda Mattam safely, 
and without much of effort, and told his friends 
what he had seen He described Sri Madhva to 
them as a Super-human personality whose footsteps 
no mortal could follow, unless he chose. He told 
them how by the Guru's grace he had been almost 
carried home by invisible powers, at the wave of his 

So long as Satya Theertha had been following, 
Sri Madhva had felt his own progress impeded, as it 
were, by a chain that dragged him to earthly associa- 
tions. When Satya Theertha retired, Sri Madhva 
leapt freely from hill to hill, and made a rapid 
progress through the wilderness. He soon 
reached the peak of Badari, and at the top, 
he tarried a bit for composure of mind before 
ushering himself into the great Presence. He 
unconsciously passed the chief events of the past in a 
rapid review befor his mental vision, and sent up a 
fervent prayer of thankfulness to the Lord for his 
grace in guiding his steps surely and steadily to the 
goal. He pondered over Nara Narayana's kindness 
and Sri Vyasa's condescension. He devoured the 
scene before his eyes as he set foot on the holiest of 
the holy spots, and made his way through a shola of 
magnificent charm. It was a miniature scene of 
Vaikunta, wherein the special presence of God 
inspired nature with a glow and glory not to be 
met with anywhere else in the creation. The 
mighty palms, the chirping birds, the tamed brutes 
were so unlike their kindred and brethren of 


the plains. The scene enraptured the senses, 
and captured* the soul at a glance. The hermits 
Who lived with the great Vyasa, were blessed 
Mahatmas, who had fairly conquered the conditions 
obtaining m the plains, and obeyed not any laws of 
the weather, or the appetites, that enslave the human 
frame here below. 

Sri Madhva moved slowly into the sacred pre- 
cincts, delighted by what he saw and what he heard. 
He caught sight, from afar, of the great Rishi surround- 
ed by a devoted band of Mahatmas, and engaged 
in revealing some great secret of God's inscrutable 
attributes, a veritable embodiment of Truth, Light, and 
Bliss. The Divine effulgence shed a soft light far and 
wide, and guided Sri Madhva's steps into the laby- 
rinths, unto His Presence. At last, the pleasure, the 
ecstacy ! He stood face to face with the Lord, the deity 
of his worship, the Guru of his adoration, his guide, 
philosopher, and friend. He bethought himself of the 
infinite grace that had led him thither, and promptly 
lay down prostrate at the lotus feet of Vyasa in mute 
adoration. It was a dedication absolutely perfect, a 
selfless surrender which was untainted by the least 
tinge of hope or fear, and unprompted by the re- 
motest allusion to any cherished desire. There he lay, 
prostrate like a log of wood, resigning himself, body 
and soul, unto his Guru and God. 

The great searcher of hearts knew, of course, the 
unlimited Bhakti surging within the breast of this 
visitor. He lifted Sri Madhva from the ground, and 
blessed him by a fond embrace that sent a Divine 
thrill, and made his hair stand on end. Sri Madhva 
opened his eyes to devour the form of the Lord, take 
in every limb and feature, and imprint it on his mihd/ 

-'-><"/. ' »"*'■'*• 

No. 3. 

u Within a short time, Sri Madhva made a remarkable progress in 
studies." — P. 121. 


and treasure it up in his memory. He rested his eyes 
and focussed his mind on the Divine person, and passed 
it in review from head to foot associating it with some 
great Divine attribute he could think of at the moment. 

Time fleeted, unfelt, and unheeded. When the 
thrill of the first contact subsided a little and equanim- 
ity was restored; a warm welcome was accorded to 
Sri Madhva by Vyasa and the brethren of the holy 
order. They treated him with lavish kindness and 
hospitality. lie lost no time and found no difficulty in 
making himself at home with/ the new environments. 
Soon he became the foremost pupil of the sage. 

The Lord initiated him in the true knowledge, and 
the chela imbibed it, to an extent that the brother 
Mahatmas were amazed to note. They observed the 
affinity that bound the Guru and the Sishya together, 
the intimacy of their relation and the cordiality of their 
mutual attachment. Within a short time, Sri Madhva 
made a remarkable progress in his studies and 
learned all that the sage meant he should he equipped 
with, for the purposes of his mission. 

In the enjoyment of this bliss Divine, he would 
have stayed away altogether, but the camp at Ananda 
Mutt reminded him of his earthly duties. He there- 
fore had to set aside his own wishes, and get ready 
to commence the descent from the Himalayan heights. 
In the course of an affectionate parting, reference was 
made to the great Sutras (aphorisms) of Vyasa and 
its true interpretation. Short, pithy, and pregnant 
with elliptical sense, these aphorisms badly required a 
lucid comment. Sri Sankara and Sri Ramanuja had 
forced their monism absolute or qualified into them, 
and misread the mind of the author. Sri Sankara had 
gone so far as to dispute the authority of the Sutras, 


wherever he found it impossible to reconcile them 
with his own* notions. To justify this strange posi* 
tion, his admirers even resorted to a fiction that Sri 
Vyasa and Sri Sankara once held a controversy in 
person over one of the aphorisms, and that the disput- 
ation was so hotly sustained on both sides as to end 
in a drawn battle. This story is highly suggestive of 
an inner consciousness that, when all is said, the 
fact remains that Sri Sankara seriously deviated from 
the Sutras, and that the great Sankara Bhashya is not 
a faithful commentary of Vyasa, but virtually an 
original treatise of his own. 

Sri Madhva undertook to interpret the aphor- 
isms in their true light. Vyasa and Nara Narayana 
Warmly asked him to do so. He departed with this 
behest on his head, regarding it the most solemn duty 
Of his life to obey and carry it out. 



Sri Madhva took a reverential leave of Vyasa, 
and commenced the return journey. By the time he 
reached level ground, his Sootra Bashya was ready. 
This is a veritable masterpiece, (t contains un- 
ambiguous quotations from acknowledged works of 
authority, in support of every position held by him. 
It was not a mighty volume in size, but it was the 
essence of the Vedanta distilled from the vast range of 
Sruties, Smrities, Puranas, and the Epics. Sri Madhva 
emerged out of the mountain, with inspired thoughts, 
ready to propagate the faith ol Vaishnavaism, purged 
of all its adhering dross. By the halo ol the spiritual 
light he was seen enveloped in, he was well qualified 
to be the Messiah of a Reformed Religion. His 
erudition was unequalled in depth and range, and 
his mastery of the sacred writings was simply perfect. 
There were already twenty one commentaries extant, 
which purported to be authoritative interpretations 
of the Brahma Meemamsa. He took aim against 
these, and his shafts wrought deadly havoc. The 
old commantaries were the following: — 

i t Bharati Vijia* 



2. Sachidanda. 


Brahma Datta. 

3. Brahma gosha. 



4„ Satananda. 



5, Udvarta. 


Vriti Kara. 

6. Vijia. 


Vijia Bhatta 

7. Rudra Batta. 


Vishnu Kranta. 

8. Vamana. 



9. Yadavaprakasa. 


Madhava Dasa* 

i a. Ramanuja. 



11. Bartru Prapancha. 

ii4 the Life and teachings of ski madhva [chap. 

Devout Satya Theertha copied out Sri Madhva's 
Sootra Bhashya, in the conviction that every 
letter be transcribed brought the writer more merit 
than the founding of a temple on the banks of 
the Ganges. In the course of the journey, several 
copies were prepared, and an advance edition was 
sent to Udupi, for the perusal of Achuta Preksha. 

Leaving the Himalayan slopes, Sri Madhva seems 
to have taken an easterly route towards Ganjam and 
Godaveri. Eager throngs of people welcomed him 
everywhere, and did him honour He was no longer 
regarded a novice or an innovator. 

He bestowed the grace Divine on all who came 
in search of light, and freely accepted hospitalities. 
Miraculous feats of eating were always nothing to him. 
He partook of four or six Bickshas at one time, when 
Agni Sarma and others besought him, finding himself 
unable to tarry five or six days to oblige them one 
after another. 

I presume that Sri Madhva took Bengal in this 
tour. It is probable that he touched at Nadia, and 
made an impression on that great centre of learning. 
For centuries Nadia alia* Nawa Dweep, was the fore- 
most city of literary eminence in Bengal, to which all 
India resorted as the fountain-head of knowledge. 
It was a university of Oriental learning, more 
famous than Athens in its palmiest days. Herein 
masterly professors gathered thousands of pupils 
around them, and taught them Grammar, Logic and 
Rhetoric, in a manner commanding the admiration of 
the literary world. This is the birth-place of Lord 
Gouranga alias Krishna Chaitanya, who revolutionized 
Bengal two centuries later by the remarkable light in 
which he presented Vaishnavaism and the great impe- 

itll#] kETURN HOMt. t2$ 

tus he gave to *'Hari Bole" and Bhakti. Swarni Vivek- 
ananda is of opinion that the Chaitanya faith that 
dominates in Bengal followed the teachings of Sri 
Madhva Muni in vital principles. The reader is re- 
ferred to Lord Gouranga's life written by Sishir Kumar 
Ghose for a soul-stirring account of Sri Krishna 
Chaitanya and his gospel of Dwaita. This great 
Reformer was a contemporary of Vyasa Raya Swami 
the great Priest that laid Madhva literature under 
immense obligation in the ibth century by his " Chan- 
drika", " Nyayamrita" and " Tharka Thandava". 
Swami Vivekananda observes in his " Vedanta in all 
its aspects", "There have been the great southren prea- 
cher and following him our great Chaitanya ot Ben- 
gal taking up the philosophy of Madhvas, and preach- 
ing it in Bengal." If this view be correct, as it 
seems to be, judging from S. K. Ghosc's book also, 
a historical explanation may be deemed necessary 
and some day some researcher may trace it 
to Sri Madhva's times, by lighting upon a visit or visits 
paid by him or his immediate successors to Bengal, 
and detecting the seed of " Sad- Vaishnavaism " sown 
in this land. 

It is iclear from Madhva Vijia that the Guru 
visited the Godavcry. As may seem from the sequel, 
it was here that he met the two great Pandits Sobhana 
Bhatta and Sami Sastry, who became his apostolic 
successors later on, under the designation of 
Padmanabha Theertha and Nara Hari Theertha. 
The latter was a native of Ganjam, belonging to a high 
family that held hereditary office as the ministers of 
Gajapathi Kings. Thus, there is nothing improbable 
in Sri Madhva having passed through Bengal to reach 
the shrine of Jagannath in Orissa, and descending into 
the District containing the famous Sri Koormam and 

IPTi TrtE LtF'E Alto TEACHINGS ©fr SRI ItfADrtVA [ciUF* 

Sifiihachalam temples of Ganjam and Vizagapataro* 
The great Gurus of India seldom miss important 
temples and shrines, in their tours, for, their object in 
touring is to visit such places and offer worship 
therein. The Sri Koormam temple of Ganjam and the 
Simhachalam temple of Vizagapatam are places that 
Sri Madhva would surely not have avoided. 

It was on the banks of the Godavery, that Sri 
Madhva made his first great conversion by convin- 
cing the greatest Pandits of the day. Upon arrival, 
he found himself thrown amidst a regular concourse of 
learned men who had gathered at the place tor earn- 
ing royal rewards by submitting to prescribed tests of 
merit He encountered eminent exponents of Bhafta, 
Prabhakara — Vaiseshika, Naiyayika, Boudha, and 
Charvaka systems, and plunged into polemical con- 
tents with them, Standing on rocky ground, and 
attacking them with the weapons of a true Vaishna- 
vaism, these six systems could ill-resist the onslaughtt 
They crumbled at the touch of Sri Madhva's logic and 

It was, at this juncture, that Sobhana Bhatta, 
already noticed, came forward, with evident hopes of 
overthi owing Sri MadhvaS creed. His great scholar- 
ship lent hopes to Adwaithib that the new faith would 
receive a crushing rejoinder. Sobhana Bhatta turned 
yp, with a deal of flourish, and not a little of self-exal- 
tation and exultation. He sought and obtained an 
interview. Preliminaries were soon arranged, 
mediators were secured, an audience assembled and 
the great combatants entered the arena and closed 
with each other, in an engrossing debate 
qf far-reaching results. It was a spectacle well worth 
witnessing, a deadly fight between Dwaita and 



No. 4. 
Sobhana Bhatta and Sami Sastry. — P. 127. 


Adwaita, a mortal combat, the issues whereof were 
associated with momentous consequences. The audi- 
ence numbered many an eminent name of the Pandit 
world, and no less than eighteen branches of Vedic 
learning were represented among them. 

Sobhana showed good fight, but soon lost ground. 
He was unable to stem the surging waves of Sri 
Madhva's reasoning. He was no match to the Prince 
of Debatants, who spoke with luminous inspiration 
from a depth divine. He could well have tripped by 
the heels, any ordinary gymnast, by his sophistry, but 
Sri Madhva was an inspired Messiah. The poor 
Bhatta's rushlights paled utterly before the Acharya*s 
blazing sunlight It was pronounced that Sobhana 
Bhatta was Wrong, and the Acharya was right. The 
conviction of defeat was so borne in upon Sobhana 
Bhatta thai he resolved to give up his old faith and be- 
come a follower of the new creed. It required no 
ordinary strength of mind, to translate his conviction 
into action, and be converted into an alien faith, 
almost the first man to break the ice. It meant self- 
effacement that few men would consent to. It 
meant facing an amount of social odium, cynic 
sneers, unfriendly jeers, and persecutions of kith 
and kin, in short, sacrifice to an extent calculated 
to over awe any man of ordinary mettle. But 
Sobhana Bhatta was prepared to face the world 
of obloquy with courage. He was convinced that the 
numerical majority against him was in the wrong, 
and he had no hesitation, therefore, to treat that 
majority and its weapons of persecution with 

This Pandit set aside all egotism and humbled 
himself beta Sri Madhva. He prostrated before 


him and craved leave to become a disciple, and study 
the sacred books, under the Guru. The penitence 
was sincere and the pupil was worthy, Sri Madhva 
pondered, and agreed to initiate him and bless him. 
Another great man, great in scholarship and great in 
social position, approached the Acharya, while in 
Godavery, as a supplicant for salvation. This was 
Sami Sastry who became the famous Narahari 
Theertha that became later on the Pontiff of the 
Achatya's Mutt next after Padmanabha Theertha 

Sami Sastr}' was one born with a silver spoon in 
the mouth, being the son of a nobleman who held 
high office under the ruling monarch of Kalinga. He 
had inherited the prestige and position of his father, 
and become a favourite in the royal court, by virtue of 
eminent scholarship attained in the early years of his 
youth. His studies had predisposed him to a life of 
Renunciation rather than of worldly preferments. Sri 
Madhva's fame had attracted his attention. The 
conversion of Sobhana Bhatta struck him as a remark- 
able event and had a telling effect on a mind already 
disposed to renounce secular life. We may well 
conceive, that, born and brought up amidst the gaudy 
environments of wealth and rank, he soon realized the 
hollowness thereof, and felt a sincere disgust with the 
tinsels of fortune. 

In this frame of mind, he approached Sri Madhva 
and begged to be accepted as a pupil. The prayer 
was granted, and Sami Sastry changed his appellation 
by entering the holy order as Nara Hari Theertha. 

In due course, Sootra Bhashya was gone 
through, under the inspired exposition of the author 
himself, with the result, that Nara Hari Theertha 


was strongly confirmed in the attitude he had 
already taken and kicked violently against the 
seductive vanities of his inherited life. When 
Sri Madhva started from the Godavery, and 
resumed his march, Nara Hari Theertha started 
likewise, intending to follow the Guru as a shadow, 
and dedicate his life unto him for personal service. 
This however was not yet to be. The Acharya told 
Nara Hari Theertha to spend sometime in the Kalinga 
Kingdom, with a view to obtain from the Royal 
treasury, possession of some images representing 
Rama and 5ita, that had a remarkable history about 
them, Sri Madhva wished to secure these historical 
images and instal them in his box of worship. He 
predicted that Nara Hari Theertha would be chosen 
as the Regent of the kingdom during the infancy 
of the Ruler, and that the end in view was capable of 
easy fulfilment. 

Nara Hari felt a heavy heart to turn back to the 
stormy conditions of secular life, but the Guru's wishes 
were, to him, more than a command. He returned to 
Kalinga Nagara, the capital ot the Gajapathi country, 
and there it chanced just as it had been foretold, that 
he was installed as Regent for the infant heir of 
Royalty by the unanimous choice of the governing 
ministry and the popular vote. 

Archaeological records bear witness to the pro- 
longed rule of this Sanyasin. Inscriptions rang- 
ing from 1 [86 to 1215 of Salivahana era, prove the 
vigour, justice, and benevolence, of the Regent's 
government. The reign was remarkable in various 
ways, for the successful defence of the kingdom against 
invasions, the subjugation of Sabaras, the sworn ene- 
mies of the state, for the preservation of peace and 
l 7 


internal order, for the dispensation of everi-hattded 
justice, and last, but not least, for innumerable acts of 
public and private benefaction, religious as well as 
secular, distributed broadcast all over the country 

In Saka Sarnvat 1203 (corresponding to 1281 
A.D.) Nara Hari Theertha built a temple within the 
precincts of Koormeswara, at Sri Kurmam, (Chicacole 
Taluq, Ganjam Dt.) and dedicated it to Yogananda 

On a pillar of rock in this temple (east face) 
there are nine Sanskrit verses in various metrefc, 
setting forth that Sri Madhva was a Sishya of 
Purushottama Theertha (Achuta Preksha) and that 
Nara Hari Theertha was a chela of Sri Madhva. It 
refers to the vigorous rule of Nara Hari, to an 
expulsion of Sabaras in war, and to the founding of 
the said Yogananda Narisimha, in 1203 s. s. 
{Vide Inscription No. 290 of the Government 
Epigraphist's collection for 1896). 

At the end of a spirited reign, Nara Hari 
Theertha obtained from the monarch to whom he 
restored the throne, the idols of Rama and Sita that 
had lain long unworshipped in the treasury of the 
palace. These are the images that are now held so 
sacred in our chief Mutts. Sri Madhva got them from 
Nara Hari Theertha, 3 months and 16 days before his 
final disappearance, and handed them down as 
invaluable heir-looms to his successors. Tradition 
invests these metallic images with peculiar sanctity. 
Their origin is traced to a period long anterior to Sri 
Ramachandra's rule, inasmuch as they were in the 
royal chapel of king Ikshwaku himself. Dasaratha 
kept them in Pooja before Sri Ramachandra was born, 
and Sita took them to her apartments to worship, 

Shi.] return Ho&iE. }$t 

whenever Sri Rama was away from her on royal 
duties. The idols then happened to . go over to 
Lakshmana's palace, and were there for a long time, 
until a strange incident occurred, in consequence of 
which, the images passed from the Royal family to the 
house of a Bhakta. 

Sri Ramachandra was an ideal of perfection as he 
was an Avatar of the Lord- His subjects loved him 
with a who^e-hearted devotion such as is not realisable 
even in imagination at this distance of time, living 
as we do, amidst the Kaliyug conditions of universal 
disorder marked by loose citizenship, feeble ties of 
love and duty, laxity of moral strength, irresolute 
faith in God and virtue, and absence of spirituality, in 
utter contrast with the harmony of the millenium that 
obtained in the golden days of Rama. It chanced 
that an olr* Brahmin was observing a vow that he 
would take no breakfast unless and until he had 
obtained a look at Sri Rama's face once a day. For 
this purpose, he used to wend his way, everyday, to 
the court or palace, or wherever else Rama might 
happen to be, obtain a vision, and go home to have 
the first meal of the day thereafter. On one occasion, 
Sri Rama did not attend the public court for a whole 
week no account of pressing engagements elsewhere. 
The Brahmin went to the court-house, day after day, 
and returned home, grief-striken and disappointed. 
He tasted not a drop of water during the period and 
he meant to lay down his life rather than violate his 
vow. Thus, eight days passed away, and on the 
ninth, the Brahmin, broken down by age and 
infirmity, repaired with tottering steps to the 
Royal presence. Sri Rama sat on the throne 
and was holding court, accessible to all his subjects. 
Overcome by the exhaustion of prolonged fast, 


and by the excitement of finding Sri Rama 
at last, the .old man fell down on the floor, his 
weak frame succumbing to the delirium of joy. Sri 
Rama observed what happened and his infinite mercy 
was directed to him. Upon inquiry, the history ot 
the man was disclosed. Sri Rama then commanded 
Lakshmana to give up to this sincere Bhakta the 
images in his house, and told the old man to keep 
them in worship, as he could no longer pay daily 
visits to the palace and be sure of his breakfast on 
the rigid terms ot his vow. Thus, the long cherished 
idols of Rama and Sita passed to the Brahmin's 
possession. He worshipped them till his death. 
When the Brahmin was in death-bed, he summoned 
Hanuman to his house and handed the beloved idols 
to him. Hanuman hugged them to his bosom with 
tearful eyes, and kept them in worship for long ages, 
until the Avatar of Bheema, the great Hercules of 
Mahabharata. When Bheema was once rambling in 
the mountainous wilds of Gandhamadana to cull some 
supernatural flowers, he encountered Hanuman. 
The interview began with a trial of mutual strength, 
and ended in a warm greeting of friendship. At 
parting, Hanuman entrusted the images in question to 
Bheemasena. Thus, they remained in the Royal 
Palace of the Pandavas, and then of their successors, 
until the extinction of the dynasty in king Kshema 
Kanta. The images then passed on in some manner 
to the possession of the Gajapathy kings of Orissa, 
where they were in worship for a time, and then 
remained simply deposited in the treasury. 

Sri Madhva knew the history of the images and 
longed to restore them to Pooja. He therefore ord- 
ered Nara Hari Theertha to secure them for him from 
the Gajapathy treasury. 

XII.] feETtJRN HOME. i$$ 

The images are called Moola Rama and Sita ie. 
the original Rama and Sita, because they. were anterior 
to Sri Rama's incarnation itself. 

Chapters 12 to 15 of Adhyatma Ramayana, con- 
tains a full account of ' Moola Rama' and ' Sita' 
as set forth above, down to Nara Hari Thecrtha's 
episode including the delivery into Sri Madhva's 

To resume the thread of the narrative broken by 
this long digression about Nara Hari Theertha and 
the ancient images, let me remind the reader that 
it was many years after Sri Madhva first saw Nara 
Hari Theertha in Kahnga, that he met him 
again. Having left an injunction with this 
disciple that he shouid spend some years of 
useful public life, Sri Madhva left that country 
on his nomeward journey. It does not appear 
that Sobhana Bhatta accompanied the Guru at this 
time. He evidently stayed behind and did valuable 
work by spreading the true Vaishnava faith in his 
part of the country. In him, the creed had a powerful 
and enthusiastic advocate, for, he combined erudition 
with sincere devotion. He braved whatever odium 
was attached to him by ignorant people as a 
renegade, and carried on a vigorous campaign of 
evangelisation. The Telugu Districts of the east 
coast evidently bore a rich harvest of results at the 
combined labours of Sobhana Bhatta and Nara Hari 
Theertha, both of whom were eminent personages 
well qualified for the great work of propagating the 



Sri Madhva's return to Udupi was signalised by 
an ovation which his greatness richly deserved. 
Achuta Preksha had perused the advance copy of 
Sootra Bhashya that had been despatched to him. 
He had read it with absorbing interest, and had 
pondered over the knots of that singular treatise. He 
rejoiced to think of the great pupil who was covering 
himself with undying glory and fame, by his illustrious 
career. He took note of the march of events, 
and of the turn that religious thought was taking. 
He was proud of Sri Madhva, and welcomed him with 
sincere pleasure. 

Many indeed were the hours spent together by 
Achuta Preksha and Sri Madhva, in discussing the 
moot points of the Bhashya, the tenability of the 
new system, its logic and its proofs, its alms and 
its ideals. Fond as he was, personally, of Sri Madhva, 
Achuta Preksha was fonder still of his early views, 
and could not be won over except by the most 
convincing reasoning. He still manfully stood by 
Adwaita, and pleaded long and earnestly for it. 
But he was a reasonable Pandit whose hesitation was 
honest, and who was open to conviction. 

Sri Madhva was therefore able at last to prevail 
on him and make him accept the new Bhashya with 

The holy spot is still pointed out, where Sri 
Madhva sat and taught his pupils day after day, during 
his stay at Udupi. It is a space of 3 cubits square, 


within the precincts of Ananteswera temple. There * 
is no image or statue on the spot. It .would appear 
that Vadiraja Yateendra tried once to instal a statue, 
but the Master appeared overnight, in a dream, and 
prohibited it. Hence that small area is left vacant, 
simply protected from trespass and desecration. The 
enclosure simply prevents a promiscuous treading. 

In those days, this site was in the outer-most part 
of the temple buildings, fully exposed to light and air. 
But the temple has had additions since, so that the 
projecting mantapam has thrown Sri Madhva's favorite 
spot into shade ancl darkness. He is not at all likely to 
have chosen the spot for his daily discourses and 
lectures, if it was the ill-lighted and ill-ventilated 
place it looks at present. 

No gi*eat memorial strikes the eye, no monu- 
ment, no arches, no domes, such as is the fashion 
now-a-days to erect, with a view to coax time to spare 
its ravages. The visitor sees the place as Sri 
Madhva used it day after day, and propounded his 
system to eager throngs of people. There he sat, a 
picture of golden hue, covered with light divine, and 
radiant with inspiration. Those that came to scoff 
generally stayed to pray. Those who heard him, 
listened with a degree of attention so whole-hearted 
that their souls seemed thoroughly absorbed in, and 
overwhelmed by, the musrc of his ringing voice. He 
sat there, a commanding figure of perfect symmetry 
and beauty, and addressed the listeners in words of 
prophetic wisdom and revelation. He exhorted them 
to renounce Adwaita and worship God in reverence. 
He besought them to banish the delusion that man is 
or can be God — the delusion of a present or pros- 
pective identity with the Supreme Being, the vast 


inaccessible gulf between the great God and puny 
man being an .inconceivable infinity itself. He asked 
" when will Light be identified with darkness, Truth 
with delusion, knowledge with ignorance, atom with 
infinity, bliss with pain, absolute perfection with 
utter imperfection"? 

Among the audience, there were, of course, list- 
eners of various shades of belief. Some of them 
felt genuine faith penetrate the soul and become devot- 
ed converts. These prayed of Sri Madhva to stamp 
them as his lollowers, by the well-known marks of 
Vaishnava faith. They danced with joy to receive 
on their arms, abdomen, and chest, the branding marks 
of Chakra and Sankha, as the symbols of a true Vaish- 
nava. Many were the Bhaktas who entered the fold 
in this manner and forsook their old beliefs and habits 
and opened a new chapter of life, forgetting and 
ignoring many an old association, rejecting and repu- 
diating kith and kin if they refused to join, and 
behaving like men, fired and maddened by a super- 
natural influence. Sri Madhva taught Bhakti in words 
of burning earnestness and eloquence. He not only 
taught but lived a life of Bhakti with whole-hearted self 
surrender. He preached and practised divine worship 
with an intensity of feeling that was beyond descrip- 
tion. He lived a life of austere self-abnegation and 
penance. His influence charged the atmosphere 
with an ozone of piety w"hich men inhaled with a 
delirium of joyful thankfulness. Men felt that a great 
personality was moving in their midst, for a very 
great purpose. 

They thought of him and talked of him 
incessantly in his absence. They longed to see him 
and hear him, and follow his foot-steps wherever he 

Xlll.] Rt^ORMS AT UDUPI. 137 

went. Whenever Sri Madhva went to the sea for his 
bath and ablutions, a large gathering of devoted 
adherents assembled on the sands, and waited for 
Titlasi and holy water (Theertha.) 

It was on one of these occasions, that a remark- 
able incident happened. One day, Sri Madhva started 
for the sea-bath in the stnall hours of the morning, 
As usual, he offered prayers to the Almighty, by 
reciting hymns in His praise. This day, it occurred 
to him, that he might himself compose a short book 
of Sonnets capable of being set to music. He begdn 
at once. As he walked to the sea-shore Which is abotit 
3 miles from Udupi, he composed verses with great 
£&$e. He sariij in numbers, for the numbers cariie. 
They came unbidden out of stirgirtg emotions. The 
Muse was at his service and in her best form. 
Verse aftev verse flowed like honey, sweet and pithy. 
In a few hours, five chapters of about 46 verses 
were ready. 

All this was obviously the result of a pre-senti- 
ment. When the idea of composing " Dwadasa 
Stotram " occurred to him, Sri Madhva was intently 
thinking of Sri Krishna. It flashed to him that 
Sri Krishna was on his way to Udupi to settle doWft 
here, for the benefit of his Bhaktas. He felt a strong 
pre-sentiment that the day would turn out most memor- 
able to Udupi, and that before sun-down, the Grace 
of the Almighty would bless this place in a special 

This pre-vision elated his spirits, and facilitated 
the flow of praj'erful music. He dartced mentally to 
the tune of the divine music, and sang on, ahseflt-t 
mSndedly, during alt the abllit'toWs, 


I tut yf£ mt> nAftoVNto or 5J« mabuva [chap, 

„ f i «|$ lmt f he went to the sunds, and sat down for 
itftllfi; meditation* While thus engaged, he opened 
%fa eyes suddenly, and they lighted upon a ship in dis- 
tress. It was a merchant-man from Dwaraka laden 
With costly merchandise. The Master saw that the ship 
,t*#4 got out of hand and was drifting at the mercy of 
$he waves. At length, it got stranded in a sandbank, 
so that all the skilled efforts of the sailors proved 
ineffectual to redeem her from peril 

Sri Madhva understood the distress of the 
unhappy vessel and resolved to save her. Taking 
up his handkerchief, he waved it at the ship, 
intending that she should float and sail to the shore. 
And sure enough, the ship did float and sail, and 
was soon beyond danger. A general shout of 
rejoicing and welcome greeted the merchantman, as 
she touched the haven in safety. The master of the 
ship approached the Guru with profound gratitude, 
and begged of him to accept some return. Sri 
Madhva cared not for treasure, abundantly as it was 
offered. He said " there are some clods of earth 
known as " Gobichandan " in your vessel : give me 
some pieces thereof. I am content." The merchant 
obeyed with alacrity, and many large pieces were at 
once fetched. The beholders watched the develop- 
ment of affairs with intense interest. 

One of the pieces was particularly large and 
heavy. Sri Madhva ordered it to be carried with care 
to his Mutt. There were many persons accompany- 
ing him on this occasion. 

When the clod was brought about one or two 
furlongs, on the way homip, it broke in twain and dis- 
closed to view a magnificent image of Sri Krishna, It 

No 5 . 
u Sri Madhva looked at the figure and became transfixed with emotion " 

—Page 139. 


was a lovely statue of Balakrishna holding a churning 
rod in one hand and a churning rope in. the other. 

Sri Madhva looked at the figure and became trans- 
fixed with emotion. The pre-sentiment was fulfilled, 
Sri Krishna had come from Dwaraka among the clods 
of the ship's ballast. He had lain unworshipped for 
centuries on the shores of Dwaraka and had at last 
wended his way to Udupi, to bless Sri Madhva and 
and his disciples. 

Then flowed the continuation of verses from 
chapter six, with a ring of redoubled thrill. Here- 
after Sri Madhva addressed the Lord, as if face to 
face with him with telling appeals for grace. He 
filled the poem with choruses, so that groups of men 
might take part in the soul-stirring dance. Chapters 
6 to 12 were completed in the course of this day. 

The spot where the clod broke, is known as 
Vadabandeswara. There is a temple of Balarama at 
the place. 

The image thus miraculously obtained was taken 
to Udupi and washed at the tank known as Madhva 
Sarowara. When all the sticking pieces of earth were 
removed, a large gathering of people came to see the 
image. Rays of effulgent light radiated from the 
image, by reason of the divine presence induced by 
Sri Madhva's touch. 

Sri Madhva ordered his attendants to carry the 
image with care to his Mutt. They approached the 
idol and tried to lift it. It was too heavy. Some more 
joined. Still it could not be lifted. Thirty stalwart 
men tried all their strength, in vain. Sri Krishna 
remained immoveable. Sri Madhva ordered them to 
leave it alone. It was Sri Krishna's pleasure that Sri 
Madhva himself should carry him. He lifted the 


ipi&g€ w^h bpth hands and carried it with reverence to 
his lodging. The day was one of universal jpy and 
prayer for the people. Sri Krishna had come into their 
midst under icircumstances of peculiar significance. 
The inhabitants of Udupi deemed themselves doubly 
blessed by the combined presence of Madhava and 

To build a small temple and enshrine the 
Diety therein was a labour of love soon accomplished, 
The purse strings of religious charity have never been 
tight in this country and Sri Madhva had no difficulty 
at all in finding the requisite funds. He did not 
desire to build a palatial edifice with towers and 
turrets as in Srirangam. He might have done so, had 
he chosen ; for, princes would have contributed for 
it. But he was bent on raising a simple shrine with 
none of the imposing triumphs of architectural show. 

Having installed Sri Krishna of the churning 
rod and rope, in this little and simple temple, Sri 
Madhva inaugurated and regulated the method and 
formulae of worship. He codified the procedure in 
the minutest details, and led the way, by conducting 
the ritual of worship, in person. 

Those who have closely watched the ceremonials 
at the Krishna temple of Udupi, the routine observed, 
the postures and prayers at every step, the Vedas chant- 
ed, the songs sung, those who have experienced the 
thrill that suffuses even a free-thinker if he visits 
the place, are in a position to admire the wonderful 
sagacity and fore-thought of the great Founder in 
organising and regulating the unique system of worship 
that obtains in Udupi. 

Sri Madhva's dedication ot his life to Sri Krishna, 
alloting every hour of the day, and every moment 


of the hour, to some religious act betokening or 
syipboljzing lov£ find service, was a po.werful protest 
against the vanities of the world, against the aimless 
projects and ambitions that fill up the little span 
of the average human life. Sri Krishna is the goal 
of humanity, and whatever diverts attention from the 
goal, a tiny flower in a bye-lane, a blushing fruit 
in a way-side orchard, some little laugh, some petty 
merriment, mere bubbles that burst at a prick, sends 
the goal out of sight, and seriously delays the journey 
of man. 

Life's stream glides along surely and quickly 
enough. In some cases, it makes more or less noise. 
It passes through tracts of various extents. In all 
cases, it empties itself in an abyss, carrying down 
with it, honors, distinctions, and titles, to a region 
where they are unacknowledged, Sri Madhva 
exhorted, as other prophets did before and have 
done since, that being born with the light of reason, 
man ought not to forget the goal, and let himself be 
diverted by the way-side temptations of shiny but 
ephemeral roses. He exhorted men to think of the 
Spirit, and the spiritual power of humanity, by which 
God intends mankind to rise beyond their mortal 
encasement. He exhorted men to acknowledge God 
as the Creator, Preserver, and Destroyer, of the 
Universe, adore the redundant plenitude of his per- 
fections, and rely on his goodness, fear his justice, and 
aspire to heavenly immortality. 

Sri Madhva carried these exhortations into prac- 
tice in order that his life may be a glowing object- 
lesson to all Bhaktas. Having installed Sri Krishna 
in a temple, he constituted himself into a Poojari, 
whose time and all, were unreservedly at the Lord's 
service, He did not allow Sri Krishna's worship to 


be desecrated by a mercenary agency, as is the case 
too often in the temples of this country, just now. He 
allotted and appropriated Sri Krishna so thoroughly 
to himself that he regarded every interference as a 
usurpation of his privilege. Nine times in the day, an 
elaborate programme of worship and prayers was 
followed by Sri Madhva. Every honor that man 
could devise to symbolise allegiance and devotion to 
the Soveriegn of the universe, was paid to Sri 
Krishna, day after day. 

He guarded the temple from unclean touch and 
impure contact of every kind. Promiscuous entry 
with unwashed legs and unbathed persons was 
impossible. The Sanctum was advisedly too narrow 
for a crowd to enter. It had no accommodation 
for any but the High-priest and an attendant or two. 
Impure touch was rendered impossible by the wise 
provision that the High Priest should conduct the 
worship in person and after bath. The ritual laid 
down involved perpetual cleaning of the precincts and 
premises, and an incessant scouring and washing of 
the utensils. While approaching the shrine, one feels 
forcibly impressed by the physical purity of the 
environments, and is led on unconsciously to a sense 
of holiness and piety. It is easy enough to denounce 
idolatry and profess to be an iconoclast. It is easier 
still to condemn the practice of offerings, on the 
argument that the Supreme Being is utterly 
beyond want. Alas ! the iconoclasts of this fashion 
miss the point or purposes of true idolatry 
altogether. They fail to realise what powerful aids 
images are for concentration. Human thoughts al- 
lowed to roam about to catch an abstraction, seldom 
attain the object. We think in pictures and forms, 
find whenever the picture or the form is vague, the 


mental grasp is feeble To conceive of the Formless 
and fix it in the mind is an impossibility. Let every 
devotee who wishes for Yoga, the heart's union with 
God, conceive a form for the Almighty and treasure 
it in his heart, prepetuate it in a thousand ways, giving 
it shapes physical, and shapes mental, treasure them 
in the box and imbed them on memory, worship them 
with choice offerings and adore chem with choice 
prayers, he will soon realise what a rapid progress 
he makes in Yoga, as contrasted with the vague, 
elusive state of things in trying to worship an im- 
personal God. 

When great minds seek to invoke God in an 
image, for the purposes of worship, God does grant 
the prayer by making that vehicle an object of 
His special presence. Images intently worshipped 
like the Sri Krishna's image at Udupi or the Mula 
Ramachandra of the Mutts, for instance, are 
aglow with a supernatural halo induced by the 
magnetic prayers of great souls. 

It was indeed a happy idea of Sri Madhva's, to 
ordain 8 ascetics, put them each in charge of a separate 
mutt, and make them jointly and severally responsible 
lor the Poojas and festivals of Sri Krishna's temple. 
This was the most effectual and practicable means of 
ensuring the perpetual continuance of worship in the 
shrine. These ascetics discharge their trust honour- 
ably and faithfully by each of them taking charge of the 
temple, under a well-regulated system of rotation. 

In spite of vicissitudes attributable to various 
causes, such as the natural degeneracy of the times, 
increasing worldliness, and bloated wealth, it must be 
acknowledged to the credit of the 8 Udupi Sanyasins, 
that, to this day, they have kept up, Sri Krishna's wor- 


ship in its glory, almost as Sri Madhva ordained it, and 
that no ascetic who succeeded to the charge ever 
tailed to devote all his time, all his energies, and all 
his resources, to the service of the Lord during his 
regime. It is the pride of every Madhva that the 
high priests of the Udupi temple are men of a wholly 
different calibre from other temple priests, and that 
the atmosphere oi this shrine is wholly different in 
character from other shrines, by reason of the holy 
thrill, the pious flutter, the calm peace, the suffusing 
joy, that the soul is filled with, when the Bhakta 
enters the place and sees what is going on. 

Sri Madhva laid the greatest emphasis on personal 
cleanliness as the first and foremost condition of every 
religious observance. A plunge-bath in water was 
recommended as highly meritorious. It was insisted 
that the dress after a bath should be clothes washed and 
dried and scrupulously secured from contact with other 
clothes and the touch of unclean hands. Unwash- 
ed silks which are so popular among certain sections 
of Brahmins as holy clothing are condemned by 
Madhvas. The ideas of personal purity as a 
qualification tor religious practices are so elabor- 
ately, minutely, and logically, designed and worked 
out, that Madhvas, and more especially their 
women-folk, are known to go to ridiculous 
lengths in their touch-me-not exclusiveriess. At 
Udupi, one realises the purposes and value of the sacred 
injunction that Sri Krishna's worship should be 
thoroughly free from the least taint of uncleanliness 
and impurity. The ascette~in-charge, puts himself 
under special vows of fasting and penance, and leads, 
for a period of two years during which he conducts 
the Pooja, a special life of piety. Thus approached 
and thus worshipped, how can Sri Krishna in his 


infinite menry, help investing this shrine with His 
Presence in a marked degree, and illuminating the 
lives of the Faithful with Bhakti and bliss? If tradition 
be honest and reliable, the monks who take* charge 
of Sri Krishna by rotation, are so many Gopees of 
Brindavan, who moved with and loved Sri Krishna 
with an indescribable intensity of feeling, and are 
taking re-births now for the privilege of worshipping 
Him. These monks conduct themselves as if they 
are living and moving with Sri Krishna himself, in 
flesh and blood ; so completely do they forget the 
image, and so thoroughly do they assimilate the 
Lord into their consciousness. Sri Krishna presiding 
here being a boy, they feed him in the forenoon 
with choice offerings and distribute the same 
among the boys before 9 or 10 a. m. At midday, 
they do the great Pooja of the day and the prasad 
is distributed among the guests, who sometimes 
number many hundreds. They keep an open 
dour of hospitality to all that seek to have the 
holy prasad. The evening Pooja is a repetition of 
the morning service. The Leelas of Sri Krishna 
are perpetuated in festivities distributed throughout 
the year. They dance before the Lord of Love to the 
tune of music, chanting the chapters of Dwadasa 
Stotram or other songs of an elevating character. 
As the chant proceeds, and the dance goes on, the hair 
stands on end tears flow from the eyes, and the brain 
is on fire with emotion. Some of the devotees more 
emotional than others swoon away, overpowered by 
memories of Sri Krishna's wonderful Leelas. 

Sri Madhva originated all this, and led the way 

by an example of devotion, that was without a parallel. 

He # taught, by example more than by precept, that no 

pursuit of the worldly-wise is in fact worthy 

r 9 


of ambition, and that life, if worth living 
at all, should be devoted and dedicated utterly 
and absolutely to the Maker of all. 

People came from far and near, to see and be 
saved. Need it be said that old Advaita lost ground 
in this country and that the theory of identity with 
God-head, or the theory of illusion, had not the ghost 
of a chance among people thus inspired by the loftiest 
example of prayerful Bhakti ever manifested before 
mortal eyes. The revolution of ideas was however 
not universal. There were still remnants of the old 
orthodoxy, who refused to accept the Guru as the 
true exponent of the Vedic teachings. These men were 
so many proofs of Sri Madhva' s tenet that souls were 
divisible into three classes according to their innate 
worth. For, he taught that some souls must get into 
Bhakti without effort, others are swayed by a mixture 
of virtues and vices, and others still, show a constant 
undivertible leaning towards vice, irreligion, heresy, 
antipathy of God, and everything that makes for des- 
cent and degtadation. Casting a glance at the world 
around us, one surely is struck at the plenitude of 
proofs that bear out this truth ; however disagreeable 
the doctrine may be to human vanity. 

When Sri Madhva stayed at Udupi, busily en- 
gaged in founding the temple and establishing Sri 
Krishna-worship on an organised and well-regulated 
basis, his younger brother was a frequent visitor of 
his Mutt and used to make long stays at Udupi on 
some engagement or other. The school-mate, who, it 
may be remembered, was a favourite friend of Sri 
Madhva during his pupilage in the village school, — 
no other than the teacher's son whose headache was 
cured by Sri Madhva's breath, had settled in Udupi, 


and was now an influential townsman. The bond of 
early friendship had not snapped during. the years that 
had gone by ; but had become greatly strengthened by 
the course of events. 

It happened that this friend started a great Yagna 
(sacrifice), in which he purposed to spend much 
money, feed thousands of Brahmins, and perform a 
course of Vedic rites on an elaborate scale. In this 
undertaking, Sri Madhva s younger brother occupied 
an important post as the officiating priest (Hotri). 
When the preparations were in progress, pandals got 
ready, moneys advanced, and other things presumably 
done, one Jaraghatita (Mooradithaya in vernacular) 
plotted against the " sacrifice" and successfully 
threw obstacles in the way. Owing to his opposition, 
it became impossible to gather the requisite materials 
and find the necessary functionaries for a successful 
celebration. The master of the ceremonies and his 
Hotri, found themselves in a hopeless fix, as they 
were not capable of overcoming Jaraghatita's opposi- 
tion. They appealed to Sri Madhva in the dilemma, 
and prayed to be extricated. 

It is not clear who this Jaraghatita was, or how 
he happened to wield so much influence in the locality 
as to thwart honest men in their innocent pursuits. 
Nor is it clear in what manner the promoters of the 
u sacrifice " could have offended Jaras susceptibilities. 
It is possible that this Yatjiia originated an innovation 
by dispensing with living animals as sacrificial victims, 
and finding a flour-substitute in their place. The 
prevailing practice was to slaughter animals by $ 
process of slow torture. The idea of the torture 
was revolting to Sri Madhva, who therefore direct a 


powerful attack against animal slaughter in or out of 
sacrifices. The result is that Madhvas have given up 
this practice altogether and in their yagnas it is only 
animal-form made of rice-flour, that does duty for the 

Jaraghatita was perhaps a Dikshitar of the 
Smartha community, who commanded a large follow- 
ing and watched the turn of events with alarm 
and spite. The Government of those days was not 
argus-eyed enough to take note of caste squabbles and 
village strifes and secure to honest folk a freedom from 
petty tyrannies. Hence this marplot was able to bring 
things to a stand-still, and Sri Madhva had to be 
appealed to. 

The Guru summoned a large gathering of the local 
leaders and officials. To make amends for the loose 
grip of the reign of law, the Village Panchayat was 
then correspondingly powerful to adjust differences 
and provide remedies. Justice as well as Sri Madhva's 
influence weighed with them, and their decision broke 
down Jara's opposition. Under the protection of the 
village autonomy, the interrupted preparations were 
resumed and the Ya<jna proceeded with. It was, of 
course, a festive occasion for the Brahmins, with an 
incessant round of Vedic chantings and sumptuous 
feastings. As mentioned already, the school-friend 
and the younger brother of Sri Madhva, both distin- 
guished themselves, by their hospitality, organisation, 
and scriptural lore, in this great " sacrifice". 

By this time, Sri Madhva had made a long stay at 
Udupi. He had struck a deep note of reform by 
his teachings and had shaken the old order of things to 
its' foundation. He had set men thinking earnestly arid 
seriously. The foundation was thus well and truly laid 


for further work. Leaving the forces set in motion to 
work their way, and confident of happy results, Sri 
Madhva resolved to undertake a second tour .to" the 
Himalayas for paying respects to the great Vyasa of 
the Badari hermitage. 


The Second Tour to Badari. 

Pandit Narayana Acharya, the author of the well- 
known work ' Sri Madhva Vijaya' has acknowledged 
his obligations to a poet of the Chola country for an 
account of Sri Madhva's tour through Northern India. 
It is evident that during the life-time of the Guru him- 
self, the chief events of his career were chronicled by 
some disciple or disciples and published among the 
elite of the new faith by means of public recitations. 

The chronicles were however mere skeletons ol 
Sri Madhva's doings, by no means offering a connect- 
ed narrative of his life and furnishing no true insight 
into the real nature of the Acharya's work. The bio- 
grapher is thrown not a little upon his imagination to 
fill up the gaps of the outline, and convey an idea of 
the solid work of the great Reformer in the length and 
breadth of India. 

Sri Madhva performed miracles and marvels, 
undoubtedly, to impress people with a sense of 
his greatness and pave the way for a large accept- 
ance of his reform. But miracles were not the 
kernel of his life-work. One wishes ardently 
to know about the people he addressed, the language 
he used, the winged words offirethathe spoke, the 
methods by which he metamorphosed indifference 
into ardour, resuscitated spiritual life, filled the dry 
bones of fossil beliefs with vitality, and invested life 
with a meaning and a purpose hitherto unrealized 
even by scholars. In short, one is eager to trace the 
history of his great Reformation from its insignificant 
beginnings through all its ramifications. Although 


Vaishnavaism was not unknown before, it received an 
impetus from Sir Madhva's unique personality and 
propagation, a unifying impetus it had not possessed 
before. To Sri Madhva, more than to any other religi- 
ous reformer of recent times, belonged the credit of en- 
throning religion once more on common sense, and 
purging Vedantism of mystic over-growths. It was 
he who rendered it possible for men that adored the 
ancient scriptures of India to accept their authority, 
and still worship the Supreme Being in the right 
spirit. To those who felt a sort of innate conviction 
that God should never be worshipped as an equal, 
who felt puzzled by conflicting texts some of which 
seemed to support strange doctrines, — who had not 
the courage to set the texts at naught and felt them a 
veritable nightmare choking their consciences, Sri 
Madhva afforded enormous relief by dislodging the 
nightmare from their conscience, and proving how 
all the venerated texts of ancient authority pointed 
to the same goal as common sense and right reason 
did. In accomplishing this result, Sri Madhva visited 
every important place in India. Some well-known 
centres of learning, he visited, more than once. 
He made prolonged stays in places like Benares, 
and diffused his teachings far and wide. History 
furnishes very meagre information about the dates 
and events of Sri Madhva's tours. It is more meagre 
still, about the personages with whom he came in 
contact, and whom he caused to be the instruments 
of further propagation. That he left well-marked foot- 
prints of his individuality wherever he went, is quite 
evident from the fact, that Vaishnavaism, as he 
presented it, took deep roots in Bengal and Northern 
India in his time. His methods were thoroughly 
peaceful. He left kings severely alone. He never 


used them as instruments to force his faith down the 
throats of ujnwilling men. He eared not to use 
Culminations royal and priestly, and to secure a 
following. He evinced no anxiety to swell his 
greatness by the weight of numbers. He was indifferent 
to fame, wealth, influence, and whatever else is 
generally desired by pushful reformers. He passively 
permitted his towering personality to dispel 
ignorance, and allowed his great example to 
impress men's minds. He freely discussed and 
discoursed on great topics with leading Pandits, and 
let men pursue the bent of their own inclinations 
and convictions. The History of this Reform- 
ation is a refreshing record of peaceful incidents, 
standing out in religious history as a remark- 
able contrast to the bloody revolutions elsewhere, 
marked by rivers of human blood and blazing bonfires 
of martyrs. He cared not for the artificial aid of 
aristocratic influence. Nor did he care to swell his 
ranks by indiscriminate conversions. He was content 
to teach where genuine people were eager to learn, 
and left results in the hands of God. He led an 
humble life such as befits ascetics who have 
renounced the world, never hesitated to travel as a 
pedestrian, mingled freely and on terms of cordial 
fellowship with pupils, servants, and followers, and set 
up no barriers of exclusiveness between himself and 
the people as a sign of priestly eminence. In short, 
Sfi Madhva was a hero in the truest sense of the 
term, one, whose greatness was goodness in essence, 
whose cult was no cant, whose message was peace, 
whose word was gospel, whose breath was light, 
whose personality, was imposing and inspiring. 

Since his first tour to Badari, Sri Madhva had 
accomplished a great deal. His Bhashva had been 


received with a grateful chorus of welcome. His views 
had commanded admiration and homage. The grace 
of God was quite manifest in the success that invariably 
crowned his efforts. It was evident that God did not 
intend Sri Madhva to shut himself up in a corner of 
Canara, and hide his light in a bushel. He interpreted 
his own wish to go to Badari as a Divine call that was 
meant to bless thousands of Baktas scattered on the 
route. He therefore set out from Udupi with his chief 
followers. Hisstaff consisted of no hired service. It 
comprised pupils and adherents who were eager to die 
in his service and attain Heaven as the only 
reward. But the retinue thus constituted was by no 
means poor in number or strength. This time, it 
contained not less than 50 able-bodied attendants, 
besides a number of ascetic pupils. Ascetic Satya 
Theertha was an inevitable member of the party, for, 
he invariably followed Sri Madhva like a shadow, 
Upendra Theertha was another pupil who travelled 
with him on this occasion. There were others too. 

It would be of interest to the reader if the date of 
this tour could be fixed with any degree of certainty. 
Of all the great gurus that played a part in the religi- 
ous history of this country, Sri Madhva appears to 
have been one who studiously gave kings a wi<|e 
berth, as far as possible. He never voluntarily threw 
himself into royal company and rarely came into 
conflict with rulers or governors, either in his tours 
or in Canara. He was such a wholly self-absorbed 
yogin, that, naturally enough, he and politics were 
poles apart. Contemporary history dealing with 
kings and battles is of no avail to Sri Madhva's 
biographer jn fixing the chronology of the various 
incidents if) the life of the Guru. Side-lights shedding 


a pStssing flash, appear now and again, but they are 
so evanescent, and momenta ry as to be more perplex- 
ing than illuminating. 

If the reader will pardon a bit of conjceture, I am 
inclined to put Sri Madhva's second tour to Badari, 
at some time between 1260 and 1271 A. D. Sri 
Madhva evidently passed through the Kingdom of 
Doulatabad alias Devagiri, when the ruler thereof was 
one Iswara Deva or Mahadeva, a Yadava king who 
ruled at Devagiri from 1260-1271, and had a prosperous 
kingdom including Kandesh- He was a usurper, 
whose son Amana was ousted by Rama Deva (1271 to 
1309). It was during the reign of Rama Deva and 
of his son Sankara Deva that Alauddin made descents 
into this province, and carried away an immense 
plunder. When Sri Madhva was passing through 
Maharashtra, King Mahadeva was the regining 
monarch. The country had not yet got into the 
throes of Muhammadan inroads and convulsions. 

This King had evidently very queer notions of 
beneficence. He had no objection to public works 
of charity, provided his coffers were not called upon 
to contribute. He undertook so-called works of public 
utility, and carried them out by enforced labour. 
When Sri Madhva was passing through Maharashtra 
with a large retinue, it happened that the king was 
getting a big tank dug for the people. He was taking 
such a keen interest in the work that he personally 
supervised the operations. He caught hold of any 
idler in the town, any wayfarer or traveller that 
passed, and forced him to take up the pick-axe and 
contribute labour. When the Guru's party chanced 
to pass, the mandate was given for Sri Madhva and 


his followers to take up the pick-axe and work away. 
The Acharya was seriously inconvenienced by the 
halt, and found no easy way out of the difficulty. 
The king was inexorable in his orders. Sri Madhva 
went up boldly, and sought an interview with the 
king, and addressed him. He had to requisition the 
aid of subtle mystic forces to extricate himself from 
the situation. He found thousands of people at work, 
not day-labourers and coolies, but men, good, bad, 
and indifferent, impressed into service by an arbitrary 
edict of enforced and unpaid labour, It looked as 
if their curse had brought Sri Madhva to the spot, in 
order to work out a nemesis for the tyrant. Appear- 
ing before the king, Sri Madhva told him that he and 
his men were quite prepared to obey his edict. He 
added that he and his men were raw novices for the 
task, and that he would be thankful to have the pro- 
cess taught by royal example. The Guru spoke so as 
to hypnotise the king, and reduced him into obedi- 
ence. The suggestion took effect, and the great man 
took up an axe and began to dig, just to set an ex- 
ample and show the way. But Sri Madhva had 
wound up a subtle mechanism in his heart, so that 
the hypnotic impetus continued to propel the royal 
hands and dominate the royal will till late in the 
evening. When Mahadeva, the ruler of a powerful 
state, was digging away with a promiscuous crowd 
of workmen, forgetful of his position, and forgetful 
of why and wherefore he should do so, Sri Madhva 
smiled with humour at the pathos of the situation, 
and left with his party, unnoticed by the royalty 
thus engaged in manual labour. The moral of 
the episode is so plain that he who runs may read 
it. It was a duel between a ruler of men and a ruler 
of hearts ; in this, the former was vanquished by the 


latter with no waste of powder and smoke, a result 
just what it might be expected to be in such an 
ufleqyal match. King Mahadeva, the tyrannical 
usurper of the Devagin throne, being no better than 
hfewers of wood and drawers of water, found his 
level, for once, when his impertinence assailed a 
superhuman rock, and reverberated against himself 
into a very unpleasant echo. 

Sri Madhva's party pursued their journey in 
peace through many a Hindu state until they 
reached the Ganges. Here, the journey was inter- 
rupted by serious impediments, physical and political. 
The Ganges, at the point where he wished to ford it, was 
the dividing line between Hindu and Muhammadan 
sovereignties. On both banks of the river, edicts 
were in force prohibiting mutual communication. 
There were no boats available at all for transhipment 
across the stream which was too deep and too wide 
for any pedestrian or swimmer. Inveterate hostility 
and jealousy was the pivot of political relations 
between the neighbouring states, so that, the 
sovereigns on either bank lived in perpetual dread of 
the spy, and resorted to absurd precautions to ward 
oft* the obnoxious parasite. 

North of the Ganga, Jalaluddin held sway, the 
uttcle of Alauddin shortly to distinguish himself by 
wading in blood to the Khilji throne of Delhi. Some 
Hindu prince reigned south of the river, a prey to 
ceaseless fear and torment at the neighbourhood of an 
alien power which was growing in strength beyOfid 
ffteasufe. Sri Madhva reached the Ganges at this 
juncture, and found that no boats were available for love 
or money to tide him over the flood:*. He found besides, 
a prohibitory batin proclaiming pains and penalties for 


any Hindu that dared to cross the river and set foot oft 
the further bank. A ferocious regiment of soldiers 
that knew no bowels of compassion, lay in wait at the 
opposite bank, to give the offenders of this regulation, 
a smart reception. On being told that the river could 
not be crossed, Sri Madhva resolved to defy the laws, 
both physical and political, and ford the river. He 
told his followers to hold one another by hands, and 
descend boldly into the current. He himself held the 
hand of the foremost man of the train, and led the 
party into the surging gult. A miracle tided them 
over the deep, similar to the one ordained by 
Sfi Krishna when Vasudeva carried the Divine 
babe across the Jumna into Yasoda's room. And 
these followers of Sri Madhva! the mind reels at 
the effort to realise their faith and trust in the 
Guru when they plunged into the abyss without 
hesitation at the Guru's bidding, and paid not a 
moment's thought to the consequences. It was an 
ideal obedience, such as even soldiers are not capable 
of. Sri Madhva was their leader, and they chose 
to follow him, wherever he might take them. By 
their implicit trust, they were saved, as saved will 
assuredly be, everybody that places trust in him. 
For, the' scriptures declare that the deity ' Vayu ' 
whose incarnation was Sri Madhva, is the appointed 
leader who takes all Bhaktas in hand, and guides 
them into the Presence of the Supreme Being. Vayu 
is the great boat to navigate the wave-tossed souls 
across the ocean of births and rebirths to the haven 
of Peace, to the haven of God, to be finally released 
by the Divine grace. Those that confide in, and cling 
to, his guidance are true Vaishnavas, who have no 
difficulty in tiding over the surging waves- To 
those that could read its meaning, the incident of 


the Ganges was an illustration of this truth, an ocular 
demonstration of an invisible phenomenon, tellingly 
sUggestwe of Sri Madhvas greatness. 

Thus the unfordable river was crossed and the 
shore reached in safety. When the party set foot on 
Muhammadan soil, a terrible yell of the guards 
barred the way. The soldiers obstructed the 
travellers, and threatened to seize them, and kill every 
one, for disobedience of royal orders. But Sri 
Madhva was quite equal to the occasion. He spoke 
to the soldiers without lear, and told them calmly 
that he was no spy. He assured them that, instead 
of avoiding the king, he would go straight to the king 
and seek an audience. The soldiers yielded without 
further parley. The marvel of the fording had pro- 
bably impressed them already with awe and rever- 
ence, so that, they were not prepared to use violence 
if they could help it. Sri Madhva's word gave assur- 
ance of the peaceful character of the travellers, and 
set the soldiers' conscience at rest. The party was 
therefore allowed to proceed. 

But the danger was not yet iully passed. The 
monarch had to be faced, the Mussalman ruler of 
Delhi, with his inveterate hatred ol Hinduism and 
serious distrust of alien visitors. The lion had to be 
bearded in the den. It might turn out a ferocious 
lion with none of the refined instincts with which 
the royal beast is sometimes credited. Sri Madhva 
had however no fear. 

The throne was just then in the possession oi 
Jalaluddin Khilji, the uncle of Alauddin. This monarch 
was a peaceful sovereign who had ascended the throne 
at the age of 70 and signalized his reign by no more 
than a single murder. He ruled the country with 


mercy and kindness, and was a great patron of learn- 
ing. In his time, Delhi was a point of attraction to 
literary geniuses of every description. Ameer Kush- 
roo, the famous Persian poet, one of the sweetest 
poets of that tongue, was the king's librarian. Simple 
and unassuming in nabits, the king moved freely with 
the people, and showed kindness and forgiveness even 
to his enemies. When goaded by courtiers to acts of 
sternness, accustomed as they were to bloodshed and 
butcheries in the name of statecraft, the king, it is 
said, refused to sanction, saying " My friend ! I am 
now old and weak, and I wish to go down to the grave 
without shedding more blood." Chronology and 
probability point to Jalaluddin as the Muhammadan 
king whom Sri Madhva interviewed. When they 
were brought face to face, the king opened conversa- 
tion by expressing surprise at the miraculous fording of 
the river and the still more miraculous escape from the 
hands of his soldiery. Sri Madhva replied with 
dignity, addressing the sovereign in elegant Persian. 
The patron of letters was struck by the sage's accom- 
plishments. He was charmed by Sri Madhva's super- 
human beauty and dignity. He saw before him a 
human form of transcendent loveliness, a figure 
of gorgeous light, that shed a mellifluous charm 
around, and subdued hostility. The king had 
not the heart to associate this Divinely attrac- 
tive personage with sinister thoughts. When 
Sri Madhva spoke, it was the ring of a sweet-toned 
bell, that enhanced a thousand times the charm of the 
Persian he mouthed. The attitude of mutual distrust 
with which the interview began, soon gave place to 
confidence Before a few words had been exchanged, 
the king became warm and cordial, expressing a deep 
veneration for the great sage that stood before him. 


What Sri Madbva said remains a mystery. Nor is it 
easy to say how long he had audience of the king. It 
is said, that, actuated by the highest reverence, the 
king ended by offering a rich jaghir amounting to 
half the province, but that the sage declined it with 
thanks. Sri Madhva had gone into the palace, a 
political offender in expectation of condign punish- 
ment,;but came out of it, an honoured guest of the 
king* Human or superhuman, the incidents deserve 
a calm reflection. They seem to reflect great credit 
on Sri Madhva for wisdom and tact, to say the 

Numerous are the anecdotes told about the 
frequent encounters that Sri Madhva's party had 
with dacoits in the course of the journey. Often, had 
they to cross thick forests and rugged hill-tops. 
Security of life and property was poor enough even on 
the plains and in the inhabited parts, but it was almost 
unknown in remote regions. Northern India in the 
middle ages was torn by internecine splits and strifes, 
open warfare and secret rebellions, murders for power 
and murders for pelf, political loot and the robbers' loot. 
In this state of disorder and insecurity, pilgrimages 
were however undertaken without fear, and accom- 
plished, from one end of the continent to the other. The 
impetus of sturdy faith apparently lent unusual courage 
to these travellers. Madhva Vijaya refers to three 
several encounters, in which large gangs of robbers 
had to be faced by Sri Madhva's party. On one 
occasion, Sri Madhva threw among the robbers, to 
avert an attack, a ball made of his cloths. It looked a 
Veritable ball of gold in the eyes of the robbers. They 
eagerly tried to seize it, every one of them. The 
enpri)>ous nugget bestirred mutual hatred, disunion, 


and scrambling, so that the thieves drew swords 
upon one another actuated by the fiercest greed. 
Sri Madhva's party was simply looking on. In- 
tense greed of gold had brought the gang together, and 
now, it was the same intense greed that destroyed every 
member of the gang and rid the highway of that 
human pestilence. To all who could read the moral, it 
furnished a vivid object-lesson of bestirred passions 
working their worst. 

On another occasion, a hundred thieves stopped 
this party. The situation was dreadful ; when lo ! 
Ascetic Upendra rushed forward and wrested a 
sword from one of the robbers. He fought with such 
skill and courage as would have done credit to 
any veteran swordsman. The thieves were staggered 
by Upendra's prowess and pluck. His sword did 
terrible execution by well-aimed attacks and parryings. 
Never had this peaceful monk wielded a sword 
in his life. But he showed this day extraordinary 
skill and bravery, to the great astonishment of 
everybody that knew him. Pitted against odds and 
fighting against a hundred well-armed desperadoes, 
Upendra Theertha showed himself a match for their 
united strength, and earned the gratitude of his 
companions by routing the gang after inflicting a 
signal defeat upon them. Everybody opened his eyes 
wide in surprise to see if what was happening was a 
reality or a dream. They had known Upendra 
Theertha all their life, and had not seen him wield a 
stick. They had moved with him intimately and had 
never seen him rise above the dead level of timidity 
characterising the members of the society to which 
he belonged. This day, he suddenly bloomed into a 
soldier, a veritable Hercules of strength, thrusting, 
parrying, and hitting, as if he had been used to it all 



his life. The surprise was, however, only for a 
moment. The Sishyas turned round to Sri Madhva 
and they saw that it was all his doing. It was the 
great Acharya that had infused his Bhima strength 
into Upendra's arms. Upendra fought like one 
possessed, and surely he was in fact possessed, for a 
moment, of extraordinary prowess, from the volition 
of the great Master. 

On a third occasion, another gang made a 
descent on this party. It would appear that, this 
time, every member of Sri Madhva's party appeared, 
to the robbers' vision, an unmoving boulder of rock. 
The robbers rubbed their eyes in surprise and stared. 
Soon the boulders began to move. The thieves were 
staggered by a phenomenon for which they were 
quite unprepared. As they were still gazing, the 
the moving stones reappeared as men treading the 
road as ordinary travellers. Surprise gave way to awe. 
Forgetting and forsaking their wicked intent, the 
gang fell prostrate at the Guru's feet and begged pardon. 
Blessed indeed were these men that they stumbled 
into this company to meet Sri Madhva face to face 
and solicit his blessing and benediction. It may be 
presumed that the wicked marauders turned a new 
chapter of life from this remarkable incident. 

In passing through wilds and jungles, the indige- 
nous residents thereof, tigers, lions, and others of 
their ilk, added their terrors too, to those of marauding 
free-booters. Poor Satya Theertha who was going 
forward leading the way was once suddenly pounced 
upon by a tiger. He would have been made a hearty 
meal of, but for Sri Madhva's timely intervention. 
The sage hit the tiger with his fist and saved the 
disciple. It was a touch rather than a blow, that 

XIV J ttii SfiCOND ?OUR TO BADAftt 1 63 

despatched the brute. Satya Theertha emerged from 
the jaws and claws of death, a picture of despair and 
fear, trembling like an aspen leaf from head to foot, his 
brain on fire and vividly alive only to a single idea, 
viz., that of the monster of terrible claws slaughtering 
him in its embrace; It took the timid monk some time 
before he realized his rescue and safety. He saw and 
understood that the tiger lay a corpse ; and that himself 
so recently in its grip, was safe by the grace of his 
Acharya. To prostrate out of surging thankfulness, 
was only a spontaneous duty, and this, he performed 
with tearful eyes, coupling it with an earnest 
prayer that Sri Madhva might save him thus and 
always, in order that he, Satya Theertha, might 
be a devoted, inseparable, servant, companion, and 
follower, of the Guru for ever. This was the only 
privilege for the sake of which he held life precious 
and dear, and he therefore prayed for the boon of 
inseparable service at the lotus feet of Sri Madhva. 

In due time, the Himalayan range came into 
sight. Sri Madhva entered again into the wilds, and 
hastened to the Great Badarayana. He met the 
hoary sage, underneath the Badari tree, and fell pros- 
trate at the feet of the Lord. O ! the joy of the hour. 
It was bliss ineffable, happiness too deep for words, 
what Sri Madhva felt condensed and crowded in his 
soul. He was literally beside himself to be face to 
face with the Almighty, once again. He could always 
count upon a cordial welcome at this hermitage, and 
he was never disappointed. He was accorded the 
foremost rank among Vyasa's disciples, with the 
•approval of the Lord. For a while, he forgot his life 
in the plains, the ties he had bound himself with, the 
joys and sorrows he had simulated in his 
amidst wordly environments. 

i$4 *Hfi Lii^E ANb ffcActfifoos or SRI MaDhva [chap. 

Could any one conceive anything more peace- 
ful and blissful than a stay at Badari, face to 
face with the " wild immensity of the loftiest pano- 
ramas of nature, with a solitude at once grand and 
impressive, a retirement far from the turmoil of human 
passions, a silence pregnant with calmness and 
repose, disturbed only, if at all, by the chirping music 
of birds in ecstasy, of domesticated deer leaping from 
boulder to boulder ? The effects of the scenery so 
imposing and impressive, so full of peace, and so 
suggestive of quiet, balmy breaths of fragrance, rip- 
pling pools of crystalline waters, conveying to the soul 
a delirious sense of relief and release, a sense of 
happy antithesis to conditions obtaining everywhere 
else, were enhanced a million-fold by the choice 
companionship of spiritual friends, sages, and Mahat- 
mas, inhabiting and enjoying the splendid solitude of 
nature. To crown all, there was the Lord from whom 
radiated a light Divine, to bless everything, and every- 
body, to kindle joy in the breast of man and brute, to 
animate the vegetable and mineral kingdoms too, into 
a spontaneous outburst of exhilaration. Where is 
Vykunta, if not at spots like these? Sri Madhva felt 
it to be Vykunta, the abode of unalloyed bliss, his soul 
stirred up to its inmost depths with the profoundest 
feelings of joy and Bhakti. It may be presumed 
that Sri Madhva had no wish to cut short his 
sojourn. He was in no hurry to bid adieu to a 
place the nearest and dearest to his heart, which 
combined everything he prized and loved, which 
summed up the goal of his heart's utmost longings. 
Vyasa let him stay and study for a time, and then 
gently reminded him of his mission. Sri Madhva was 
incapable of being indifferent to the call of duty. 

It is due to this visit, that eight Saligrams of 
rare value came into Sri Madhva's possession. They 


are said to be presents made by Vyasa to his favourite 
pupil. Saligrams are worshipped in India as stones 
of peculiar merit, as the special abode of Vishnu, 
The orthodox read the various configurations of 
circles in the gaping mouths or simple holes of the 
Saligram stones, and identify the tracings as represent- 
ing some form of Vishnu. 

Before starting from Badari, Sri Madhva was 
honoured with eight stones representing Vyasa- 
moorthy and he received them with great devotion 
and thankfulness. 

The great epitome of Mahabharata, written by 
our Acharya and known as Sriman Mahabharata 
Tatparya Nirnaya is also traced to this visit. 

Dear reader, 1 assure you that Mahabharata is 
the most remarkable book in the world. It is a huge 
book strikingly original in design, strikingly vast 
and comprehensive in its scope. To lay minds, it 
looks like a book of fairy tales, full of imagination 
and fancy, but a story-book all the same. They 
admire its stupendous size, its fervid imagination, its 
glowing pictures, its masterly flow, and note that it 
is a great epic as great as Homer's, if not greater. 
We do it scant justice by confining our admiration to 
these merits alone, by taking it merely as the epic of a 
human author who evolved, out of his poetic brain, 
a long story or patch of stories. We do it scant 
justice by comparing it with any epic of modern or 
ancient times. It is unique in character and design. 
It is similar to no other work of the world, for it is a 
virtual History of the Universe dealing with eons 
upon eons of ages, and tracing the Universe from its 
creation to the deluge, in all its stages. It passes 
before our eyes, glimpses of God's work in the 


mineral, vegetable, animal, and human kingdoms, and 
the throb and pulsation of the Supreme Being as the 
lather and the soul of the Universe. It opens up a 
vista, so comprehensive, of unlimited time and bound- 
less space, that the mind reels at the effort to grasp 
the immensity. The stories appear mythical, judged 
by the standard of humanity obtaining in the Kali 
age. But myriads of ages have elapsed since the 
creator projected the egg of the Universe into space, 
and Mahabharata is the one great work that claims 
to depict the mighty march of creation from its 
nebulous beginnings, onward, ever onward, through 
myriads of cycles, known as the golden, silver, copper, 
and the iron ages, with corresponding transformations 
brought on by shifting preponderances and unequal 
poisings of Satvic, Rajasic, and Tamasic, attributes 
of matter. Most readers laugh to read, in this book, 
of men 21 cubits high, of human bodies composed 
of light, of men moving about in strange worlds, of 
birds and beasts speaking a language understood by 
man, and thousands of other similar things besides, 
that the narrow vision of the present-day 
humanity refuses to recognize as within the pale 
of possibility. But the Mahabharata was written by 
a seer who saw the infinities of Time and Space like a 
fruit held in the hollow of his palm, who intimately 
knew the evolutions and involutions of nature, who 
could trace the history of human incarnations from 
deluge to deluge and even before and beyond, who 
knew how the human atom journeys, impelled by 
Karma and the Divine will, accomplishes its journey, 
its inconceivably stupendous journey, by going ownard 
and returning inward in the path of Pravirtti and 
that of Nivritti, in lives addicted to the senses and 
those that discard the senses, in routes losing sight of 
the Divine light and those where glimpses thereof are 


visible, making up an orbit of countless births and 
deaths, commencing with the Presence of God, going 
onward to shades and shadows of ever increasing 
thickness and darkness, until the climax is reached, 
the summit is attained, when the atom feels repelled 
by the world of sense-experience, and begins a 
return journev reversing all the processes so far 
undergone, and threading a path more and more 
luminous in an infinite gradation of light, until 
the goal of Divine light is reached again. Such is the 
Mahabharata. It has been admired for its size. It 
has been praised for the tangled web of stories by 
which it illustrates its morals. It has been applauded 
for the imaginative glow suffusing its ideas. But 
it has not been admired enough. These do, by no 
means, form its chief merits. Sages find this great book 
a store-house of occult wisdom. They say that the 
passages of the Mahabharata are capable often different 
interpretations, each elucidating some subtle esoteric 
underlying thought. Hence, it is deemed a work 
of higher merit than the Vedas themselves. While 
at Badari, Sri Madhva conceived the idea of epitom- 
ising Mahabharata into a handy volume, so that, the 
characters and the moral, might impress themselves 
upon the reader, in their true significance. His wish 
was to throw light into the hidden corners and re- 
cesses of the huge epic, draw prominent attention 
to the essential and cardinal principles of its teach- 
ings, and furnish to the reader a clue for threading 
the perplexing windings of the great labyrinth. 

He consulted Vyasa about his intention, and ob- 
tained permission to put his idea into execution. Sri 
Madhva then condensed the essence of the epic and 
wrote out the purport in 32 chapters of pithy verse. 
It is a marvellous compendium that touches every 


episode of the original, emphasizes every moral, and 
explains every mystery, with remarkable accuracy 
and clearness. " Sriman Mahabharata Tatparya 
Nirnaya" as this synopsis is called, enjoys among 
Mfidhvas, a well -deserved popularity, being regarded 
as an indispensable text-book to be taken up at the 
very threshold of their theological studies. 

When he descended from the Himalayas, Sri 
Madhvahad thus two precious gifts to offer to Sishyas, 
viz., his great compendium, and the eight Saligram- 
stones of especial merit obtained from Vedavyasa. 

The former is a favourite volume in every Madhwa 
library. The latter are now found in worship in four 
places. One, at Udupi, one at Subramanyam, one at 
Madhyatala (Sode Mutt) and the remaining five in 
the Acharya's Mutt. (Uttaradi Mutt). 



Sri Madhva ?*eturned to his camp at the foot of 

• the mountain, and joined his followers. He came fresh 
from the bracing heights of the Himalayas, a veritable 
picture of robust health and strength. He came after 
a fill of etherial joy in the presence of Veda Vyasa and 
in the companionship of the Mahatmas, fresh from the 
taste of superlative spiritual bliss too subtle for mortal 
conception, too fine for human language. He joined 
his ardent followers like life-breath entering an inani- 
mate body. Sri Madhva was in their midst* once 
more, and this filled the cup of joy, to the brim. 
He had come back covered with glory, a 
figure of light rather than of flesh, more Divine 
than human, more etherial than mortal, with a 
grace, beauty, and dignity, they had never noticed 
before. When he joined his Sishyas,, they felt a 
multiplicity of emotions, happiness leading off and 
dominating a whole train of other emotions, love, 
devotion, admiration, gratitude, thankfulness, and 
so on. 

In due course, the travellers left the Himalayan 
out-skirts and reached the plains. It was evidently 
desired by the Acharya's followers, on this occasion, 

* that the chief places of historical interest in Northern 
India, such as, Hastinapura and Kurukshetra, should 

T)e visited on the way. Sri Madhva had no objection 
to it, more especially because he had himseif in a 
former Avatar, lived there, and performed deeds of 
valour, as the great Bhima of the Kuru-Pandu war, and 
vividly recollected the spot and the incidents* 


When the party reached the Ganges river, they en- 
countered the. same difficulty as before, for want of 
boats to convey them to the opposite bank. The current 
was deep and strong, and could not be crossed except by 
a second miracle. The Acharya's followers had reached 
the river in advance, and were awaiting his arrival 
for many hours, till sunset, in helpless despair. 
Having halted nowhere for rest, puja and breakfast, 
hunger and fatigue were trying their strength and 
patience very hard. When Sri Madhva came up, he 
was informed of the situation that the men and the 
luggage had been thus stranded, and that no human 
means was available for crossing the unfordable cur- 
rent. Very probably, he was on Muhammadan soil, and 
the river was the boundary line dividing a Muhammadan 
from a Hindu Province. Inter-communication had been 
forbidden by bans, with the result that the ferry had 
been absolutely deserted. Thinking over the matter 
for a moment, Sri Madhva made up his mind, and 
disappeared suddenly from view. The Sishyas knew 
not the Guru's intention. They found themselves in 
an utterly miserable condition, without food, and 
without shelter, in the closing shades of darkness, 
exposed to a biting chill. The disappearance of the 
Guru rendered their forlorn position altogether 

Having passed out of view, Sri Madhva entered 
the river, and walked across to the opposite shore, in 
virtue of occult powers known as Jalasthambha. He 
passed through water, immersed head to foot 
therein, without the least contact of moisture. When 
he emerged on the opposite bank, his body and 
clothes were dry, as if they had known no water 
at all. The news spread like wild-fire that a 
Yogin gifted with extraordinary powers had arrived. 

xv. J the return journey. 171 

People gathered in thousands to look at the sage 
who had crossed the Ganges on foot, and had 
not moistened a cloth withal. They came in 
groups of tens, filties and hundreds, and fell at 
the feet of the Master. To see Sri Madhva was 
to love him, and adore him, so great was his person- 
al magnetism. To fall at his feet, and crave his 
benediction, was a spontaneous act which every 
one felt impelled to by the holiness visible in 
every feature of the sage. Nobody questioned his 
antecedents, whence he came and whither he 
went. None doubted his greatness and his divin- 
ity. They flocked to him as if they had known 
him intimately, and begged to know his wishes. 
The king himself sent emissaries with orders to 
render him service. Sri Madhva told them that his 
party was staying on the opposite shore, unable to 
cross the water, and that boats should be sent to 
fetch them. The wish was promptly complied 
with. Satya Theertha, Upendra, and all, who 
had been giving themselves up to despair, went 
into transports of joy and wonder, at the sight 
of ferry boats plying straight towards them. They 
crossed in safety, and, to their immense astonish- 
ment, found the Master surrounded by thousands of 
people eciger to do him honour. They approached Sri 
Madhva and gave expression to their devotion and 
gratefulness, by thanks and prostration. 

After a short stay, to give themselves a much- 
needed rest, the travellers set out from this camp 
and proceeded to Hastinapur (near Delhi). It 
was the month of Ashadha when ascetics cease 
travelling and fix their camp for a period of 
four months under a vow. Far from the bustle 
of busy life, lodgings were chosen in a secluded 


spot well suited by its situation and surroundings for 
the meditation, of a Yogin. Sri Madhva avoided the 
river bank, as it was a busy haunt, and preferred 
seclusion, in order to secure rest and quiet during a 
prolonged stay of four months. The term was 
accordingly passed in Tapas (meditation). Those who 
read events in the subtle astral plane, say that the 
Goddess Ganga herself appeared in shape and paid 
respects to the sage, where he was, so that an artesian 
fountain consecrated by Ganga, bubbled out of the 
soil near the tree under which the Master usually sat 
for meditation. 

The historic field of Kurukshetra, rendered 
immortal by Mahabharata is pregnant with memories of 
the great war between the Pandav&s and the Kuroos. 
Even an ordinary Hindu traveller passing through 
the scene, feels a crowding memory of stirring 
incidents, feels strongly reminded of the heroes who 
played a prominent part, of Bhishma, Drona, Kama, 
and others, of pre-eminent glory, of the great Bhima 
and Arjuna towering head and shoulders above the rest, 
ot Sri Krishna, the God supreme, who chose to play a 
human part amidst those heroes, for the good of the 
world. When Sri Madhva and party passed through 
this Kshetra, he drew the attention of his 
companions to the chief incidents of the epic, and 
poined out the immortal places, with something of 
the pride and animation felt by one who is relating his 
own personal history. He referred to Bhima's campaign 
against elephants, and the other feats of valour 
exhibited in that episode by the Indian Achilles. He 
showed to the men, the great mace wielded by himself 
as Bhima > the identical weapon lying hid somewhere in 
the 6e'd> that did such terrible havoc during the 
eighteen 4ays of the immortal battle. The scene once 


bestirred by martial feats unparalleled in the 
world's history, lay before them, a .vast plain oi 
neglected memory, permeated by an impressive 
stillness and quiet in touching contrast with the past, 
with nothing more noteworthy than the humbug of 
a Yogin doing penance there, out of vanity, whom 
Sri Madhva pointed out as a future Maricha. The 
Sishyas approached this impostor and learnt by a 
few questions addressed to him, that he was an 
unbeliever who hated Vishnu and Vaishnavas with 

No tour through Northern India is complete 
without a visit to Benares. Sri Madhva visited this 
famous city, once more. Nobody who laid claim to 
scholarship could avoid this great centre of oriental 
learning, which drew savants from all quarters, and 
patron iseu scholarship and culture on a large scale. 
Wherever he went, Sri Madhva lost no time in inviting 
discussions and propagating scriptural truths as he 
read them. 

At Benares, the Saraswatis, Bharatis, and Puris 
of the ascetic guild, flocked to him, to engage him in 
controversies, and break the back of his creed, if 
possible. One Indrapuri, more dashing than the rest 
led the opposition and started a vigorous attack. The 
question turned on the fruits of Karma and Gnana 
(knowledge), and their efficacy to secure emancipation. 
How could Karma, it was pointedly asked, pave the 
way for salvation, if, as we are told by the Shastras, it 
be a perpetual source of births and rebirths in a never* 
eroding series of progression. U is impossible to 
quench a fiery flame by means pi fuel or clarified 
butter. It is similarly impossible to quench th# 
passions, by pleasure, to subdue tjhe senses, by addic* 


tion to sensuality. It was therefore argued, with a 
display of considerable erudition, that Sri Madhva's 
position was untenable, when he said that Karma 
combined with Gnana would lead to salvation. When 
the reply came, however, it was crushing, Indrapuri 
and those who agreed with him were silenced by 
the telling retort that so far as monists were con- 
cerned, Gnana and Karma were alike mythical, 
and that no plea could be logically made out by 
them for either. Sri Madhva established his 
view that good deeds (Sat Karma) purify the mind 
and prepare the ground for sound knowledge. Acts 
of merit bring peace and quiet to the soul, so that 
the devotee concentrates his thoughts on God 
with far greater ease and emphasis than one 
who tries to jump at knowledge at a bound. 
Karma by itself is no road to salvation. It is 
only a stage of preparation, and as such, it is 
by no means to be despised. Good thoughts, 
good words, and good deeds, have their efficacy in 
qualifying a man to a study of Vedanta ; and no text 
could be cited to controvert this position. Indra- 
puri was unable to get out of the dilemma in which 
he found himselt fixed, when he had to admit that 
knowledge, the only instrument of salvation, was 
itself an illusion and was as unreal as Samsara. Sri 
Madhva had little difficulty in exposing the hollowness 
of this monistic cant about an inscrutable Maya. 

The stay at Benares seems to have been of some 
duration. As a great centre of learning and as the 
holiest place of the Gangetic valley, it had its attrac- 
tions. As the hotbed of the schools of thought 
which Sri Madhva sought to destroy, it had special 
attraction to him, and he naturally prolonged his stay 
§o as to be able to meet as many scholars as possible 


to discuss philosophy with them. While camping at 
Benares, the retinue of the Mutt consisted of more 
than 50 disciples. It is evident that the sage had 
grown to attract a large following and was able to 
maintain a costly establishment. 

Sri Madhva once overheard these disciples talk- 
ing in boastful strain of their own physical strength. 
They were all able-bodied youths whose exuberant 
vitality led them to indulge in boast. Sri Madhva sage 
and philosopher, as he was, was not wanting in humour. 
He confronted the boasters, and challenged them for a 
duel either individually or collectively. The startled 
disciples were encouraged to enter into contest and got 
badly floored. They tried all their strength, first, one 
after another, and then, all combined together, but Sri 
Madhva was more than a match. Among his admirers, 
there weie those who adored the Master for his 
intellect, wisdom, and spiritual worth. But there were 
also common men to be taken into account, to 
whom nothing appealed so forcibly as physical 
strength. These estimated greatness in terms 
of muscular vigour, and could be satisfied by 
nothing short of a Herculean display. Sri Madhva 
condescended occasionally to satisfy this phase of 
caprice also, and impressed his men with his greatness. 

From Benares, the tourists passed to what is 
described as the country of Hrishikesa. While 
here, a striking incident of great popular significance, 
seems to have happened. It was well-known that 
the Guru was a staunch Acharya of the 
Vaishnavite persuasion. The people were not 
prepared for his being welcomed by Saivites 
with honour. It happened that the Poojari of the 
great Saivite temple in this place, an orthodox Brahmin 


known by the name of Siva, was prompted by a strange 
dreatn to do honour to Sri Madhva. Siva, the deity of 
his worship had appeared before him and told him to 
offer Bhiksha to the Gtiru in a style suited to his 
exalted position. The Brahmin woke up with a start. 
There was no mistake about it. He had been bidden 
by a vivid command, to seek Sri Madhva, and render 
him divine honour. 

In the meantime, God Siva had taken a Brahmin's 
form and appeared before Sri Madhva himself, the 
previous day. He had begged of the Master to 
accept his poor hospitality, and had prevailed on him 
to agree. 

Next day, the townsmen mustered strong, 
Vaishnavites and Saivites alike, to escort the Acharya 
to SiVa's home in a procession, with insignia of 
wbrship, indicative of the great veneration in which 
he was held by the assembly. A great feast followed. 
It was sumptuous, by the variety of costly dishes 
served on the occasion. It was grand for the enor- 
rftous throng of guests who met to partake of the 
feast, ft was an objeet-lesson of tolerance fork 
Saivite to entertain the leader of a rival faith, a lesson 
that failed not to impress the common people. 

From Hrishikesa, the march was into Ishupata 
Kshetra, the region of Parasurama's arrow, on the 
West coast of the Indian Peninsula. Sri Madhva 
visited the temple of Parasurama and paid his respects, 
as was his invariable practice whenever he touched 
at & place of Vaishnavite importance. 

Here, and at Goa which he passed soon after, 
Sri Madhva performed gastronomical feats that 
extorted wonder. One thousand plantains were once 


placed before him with a request to do justice to the 
fruits which were of surpassing quality.* Sri Madhva 
commenced to take them and went on eating until he 
exhausted the last fruit of the bunches. 

At Goa, the quantity was quadrupled. One 
Sankara offered four thousand fruits. The Master- 
passed them in with unconcern, together with 30 pots 
of milk besides. This was a marvel of digestion, and 
he chose to display his remarkable power, now and 
again, in order to leave the foot-print of his visit 
on these places, and make even the common folk 
remember him. It appears that the visit of Sri 
Madhva and his doings were reported to the ruler 
of Goa by some hostile courtier, so as to create 
a bias against the sage. One day, a party of soldiers 
suddenly came to Sri Madhva's camp with orders to 
detain him. The Acharya, however, was more than 
equal to the occasion. By reason of occult powers, 
he was in a position to snap his fingers at the militia, 
defy the king, and thwart their power and their plot. 
Understanding the situation at a glance, Sri Madhva 
disappeared from view and none knew whither. The 
emissaries of the king were simply powerless, and 
reported their helplessness. The king dropped the 

Sri Madhva re-appeared in his camp when the 
occasion for his disappearance passed away, and 
continued the tour unmolested. In a certain place, 
either Goa itself, or a village of the state, Sri Madhva 
was requested to sing. People had heard of songs 
animating brutes and beasts and bestirring the veget- 
able and mineral kingdoms too. They had heard stories 
like those of the Orpheus' Theatre the music whereof 
lulled the tiger and the lamb to sit together and 


listen, forgetful of hostile instincts. They had heard 
of Sri Krishna's flute kindling joy in trees, flowers, 
and fruits. Learning that bur Acharya possessed 
extraordinary powers, they took advantage of the 
occasion to have their doubts cleared on this subject. 
They questioned him and were informed that music 
was indeed capable of all this. But nothing short of 
demonstration would convince them. They entreated 
him to sing, if he could, and prove the truth of the 
stories. Sri Madhva complied. He took up a 
few seeds in the hollow of his palm and commenced 
to sing. The melody soon passed the stage to which 
human ears are accustomed. It grew in subtlety and 
intensity, until the vibration began to thrill the seeds 
into unrest. When the spectators examined 
closely, sprouts had already appeared. The 
music continued. A tender plant waved its 
head in visible appreciation of the melody and 
produced flowers and fruits. To say that the 
people were staggered by this marvel, falls far short 
of the reality. They were in ecstasies as the seeds 
exhibited signs of life in the hollow of a human hand, 
heedless of all known laws of nature. 

From Goa, the party travelled to Udupi without 
any further incidents ol note. Sri Madhva returned 
to head-quarters, covered with glory and renown. 
Some of his Pandit disciples sang his fame by versi- 
fied accounts of the tour. It was from these con- 
temporaneous chronicles in verse, that Pandit Nara- 
yana derived information to write ' Sri Madhva Vijia.' 
So he expressly says in chapters X and XVI of his 



Of all the rival systems that Sri Madhva sought 
to overthrow, it was Advaita that came in for the 
largest measure of attack. He took up every article 
of this creed and mercilessly exposed its fallacies. He 
regarded the claim of identity made by the Advaitin, 
as subversive of all religion, and as fundamentally 
inconsistent with notions of worship and devotion. 
He regarded it as his special mission to destroy the 
belief of universal unreality, as such a belief was, in 
his opinion, worse than atheism, materialism, and 
agnosticism, of every shade. From his favourite spot in 
the temple of Ananteswara at Udupi, he discoursed, 
day after day, on this theme, bringing all his powers to 
bear on the subject. He composed a number of short 
(monograms) treatises, in the form of essays, dealing 
separately and exhaustively with some fundamental 
notion of monism, some favourite syllogism of theirs, 
some misinterpreted text, and subjecting it to analysis 
in the light of incandescent logic. If Advaitins love 
anything at all, they love mysticism. It forms the 
warp and wool of their system ; they live and thrive 
upon subtleties and incomprehensibles, making even a 
boast of the circumstance, that, Avidya, the parent 
of creation, is a veritable mystery of mysteries. Sri 
Madhva hated this mysticism behind which ignorance 
entrenched itself. He warred against the philosophy 
which, claiming to be theistic, attributed Avidya (ig- 
norance) to God and refused to explain why God 
came to be thus infested. He was a positivist out 
and out, who did not hesitate to carry logic to its 
utmost conclusions, and who iramed a system based 


on ancient scriptures interpreted by close reasoning. 
It cannot be said that Sri Madhva sowed the seeds 
of reformation on barren soil. His followers multi- 
plied rapidly. His earnestness was telling, his 
eloquence was powerful, and his argument was 
convincing. The old moorings of thought visibly 
shifted their positions. Men were astir everywhere, 
to think and enquire, instead of simply taking 
things for granted. Throngs of people flowed into 
Sri Madhva's Mutt, eager to question him, and stayed 
to listen and to admire. 

At this juncture, the priestly head of the Sringeri 
Mutt was one Padma Theertha, evidently the 
successor of Vidya Sankara, on the pontifical 
throne. No doubt, the geneological list maintained 
in the Sringeri Mutt makes no mention of this Padma 
Theertha. Mr. C. N. -Krishnaswamy Iyer regards it as 
very probable, that, between Vidya Sankara and 
Vidyaranya, there was an intermediate holder of the 
high office, and that incumbent must have been known 
as Padma Theertha. The geneology preserved in the 
Mutt puts down Vidyaranya as the immediate successor 
of Vidya Sankara to whom a period of 105 years 
is allotted as the duration of his pontifical 
reign. Mr. Sooryanarayana Rao, the author of 
Vijianagar-history, accepts this list as full and 
exhaustive. The list gives a rule of 800 years 
to one Sureswaracharya, the successor of 
Sankaracharya, and Mr. Sooryanarayana Rao accepts 
this too, and seriously supports it. It is evident how- 
ever, that the record has some omissions. Madhva- 
Vijia refers to Vidya Sankara as the departed " gnarii 
sresta ", and to Padma Theertha, as being his pupil 
who inherited the priestly throne. There is little 
reason to doubt the authenticity of this allusion. 


The success of Sri Madhva was the topic of 
constant discussion in the Sringeri Mutt. The news 
of every conversion or secession was reported to 
Padma Theertha, with a view to rouse him to action. 
They failed not to emphasize the danger of allowing 
a rival system to be disseminated broadcast among the 
faithful. Padma Theertha became convinced that the 
situation was so serious as to call for immediate 

A large congregation of the admirers and 
followers of the Sringeri monastery met to discuss the 
position. One of the assembly delivered a pungent 
speech, in the course of which, he remarked that it 
was the prime duty of their guru, Padma Theertha, to 
start the crusade at once, and deal a vigorous blow. 
Vidya Sankara who had met Sri Madhva in Travancore 
and Ramesvaram, had gone to heaven, they said, 
bequeathing his learning and position to Padma 
Theertha. It was, therefore, a solemn trust to take 
effective steps without delay, for arresting the progress 
of the new movement. He pointed out with a touch 
of triumphant pride in his voice, how Advaita had 
defeated Bhatta, Prabhakara, and Boudha schools, 
in d£iys gone by, and how, if wielded by able hands, 
it was still capable of achieving laurels against the rising 
" tatwawadi" leader. It was conceded that Sri Madhva 
was a remarkable person who seemed to destroy 
whole volumes of Advaita, by monosyllables. Those 
who heard him and those who saw him, were powerless 
to resist the influence of his personality. They were 
carried away by the eloquence and music of his voice. 
They were mesmerised by the striking handsomeness 
of his face and features, by the dignity enthroned on 
his brow, and by the grace that characterised every 


movement of his. But he was only a man and he must 
be humbled, said he. 

In this manner, one speaker after another, dilated 
upon Sri Madhva's success, and worked upon the 
passions of their guru. They used all their skill to 
bestir bad blood, not forgetting the weapons of sneer 
and sarcasm for the sake of effect. They taunted Padma 
Theertha, saying that even butter melted only after 
coming in contact with fire, but that their guru was 
worse than butter, because he was melting away 
out of cowardice, at the mere mention of the rival's 
name, without more. 

Mr. C. N. Krishnaswamy Iyer calls this a 
" Pandemonium" in which the enemies of Sri Madhva 
hatched a wicked plot to harass him. Every one 
came forward with some proposal or other to do 
harm. Some of them who professed to be masters of 
black magic, promised to place their skill at the 
disposal of the cause. Having arrived at a resolution 
to stem the tide by any means, fair or foul, the 
assembly dispersed to carry out their purpose. They 
worked upon a settled plan of operations, and inaugu- 
rated a bitter persecution. If, at this juncture, the 
government of the day had only lent its weight, the 
persecution would, in all human probability, have 
crushed the new faith out of existence. But thanks 
to the prevailing political conditions of the day, the 
ruler of no province or state, paid much heed to 
Advaita or its claims to sympathy and support. So 
the campaign of persecution was fought somewhat 
on a footing of equality, though, no doubt, the cham- 
pions of the old order had a decided advantage in 
point of numbers, by being defenders of vested 

xvl] panoit trivikrama converted. 183 

The modus-operandi consisted, first-of all, in 
proclaiming and preaching at every street-corner that 
" Madhvaism " was an innovation not supported by 
the Shastras, and that it was therefore gross heresy 
on the part of Brahmins to give up their ancient 
Srutis and Smritis and get degraded in the eyes 
of gods and men. The preachers deliberately 
suppressed the circumstance that Sri Madhva 
advocated the highest reverence to Srutis and Smritis, 
and claimed only a right to interpret them in the 
light of authoritative canons of comment. 

Secondly, every Brahmin who showed a leaning 
towards the reform, was ostracised as an outcaste, 
and subjected to social penalties such as very few 
men would dare to defy. This is still the strongest 
weapon in India to keep the castes and creeds 
together. It has always done duty at the bidding 
of priests, sometimes to check and prevent revolu- 
tions and anarchies, and at others, to stifle freedom 
of thought and conscience. 

Thirdly, preparations were made to meet Sri 
Madhva in a viva voce controversy at his 
headquarters. One Pundarikapuri, an ascetic of 
erudition, was prevailed on to accompany Padma 
Theertha in this expedition to try conclusions 
with Sri Madhva. Evidently, Padma Theertha was 
diffident about his own powers. Probably, he was an 
ascetic of poor learning, whose chief claims to homage 
lay in his robe and sceptre. 

To provide for the worst, it was resolved, if all 
these measures proved ineffectual, to resort to 
violent steps. Sri Madhva's library was a valuable 
collection of ancient works, besides his own 


writings. Efforts were to be directed to make 
awiay with this collection. These works of Sri 
Madhva were the greatest source of danger. It was from 
them that-new fangled ideas radiated far and wide. 
To put out the light, there could be no device better 
tnan to pilfer the books and cast them into the sea. 
The gordian knot would be cut, and the problem 
effectively solved, they wisely concluded. 

The campaign of harassment was thus begun on 
an organized scale. Leaving the minor measures to 
the common people, Padma Theertha and Pundarika- 
puri set out for Udupi to seek a polemical contest. 
On arrival, they soon sent out a challenge. Sri 
Madhva never declined or avoided such a meeting. 
On the other hand, he cordially welcomed every 
opportunity of publicly discussing his views with 
learned debaters. The melee came off in the presence 
of a large assembly with umpires duly chosen. 

Pundarikapuri was evidently a clever man, 
but his knowledge was nothing to Sri Madhva's. 
The Rig Vedas formed the chief topic of debate. 
Pundarikapuri cut a sorry figure by being unable 
to expound even the opening lines of the first hymn, 
so confused was he at the sight of the assembly. 

Notwithstanding every effort to rally on the part 
of Pundanka and his adherents, the affair proved 
a walk-over to his opponent. Smarting keenly under 
this crushing defeat, Padma Theertha and party beat 
a precipitate retreat. 

That night, they vanished suddenly, and without 
notice, nobody could say whither. It was soon 
discovered that the library of the Acharya had gone 
too, A base theft had been committed. The librarian, 


one Sankarachariyar by name, reported the news 
to Sri Madhva in* blank dismay, Mischief had thus 
taken a serious turn, at last. 

Sri Madhva started without delay in pursuit of 
Padma Theertha's camp. The latter had however 
made a great distance by rapid marches. By dint 
of strenuous exertion, the pursuers were able to 
catch the flying camp, after a hot chase of many 
miles, at Pragrya Vata, a village in the modern 
Puthur Taluq (Kodee Padi in the vernacular). 

By this time, Padma Theertha had come to repent, 
evidently. He was not unwilling to hush up the ugly 
episode by a compromise and surrender. He was 
anxious to avoid a scandal. 

Sri Madhva gave no encouragement to these 
overtures of compromise. He was confident that the 
books would come anyhow, and felt no particular 
hurry to please his enemies. He had no reason to 
keep this incident from royal ears, and had no ground 
to respect the tender susceptibilities of people who 
had behaved like felons. It was now the month of 
Ashada, when ascetics have to fix their camp some- 
where, and cease touring for a period of four months. 
Sri Madhva took quarters in the lodgings XKalu) that 
Padma Theertha had recently vacated on the failure of 
negotiations, and spent the term quietly according to 
the rules of the order. 

Information was taken to the Raja of Kumbla, one 
Jaya Simha by name. An inquiry followed, and this 
furnished an occasion for the king being thrown into 
contact with Sri Madhva, and obtain a glimpse of His 
Holiness at close quarters. Jaya Simha was greatly 
struck by the history of the Acharya. He came to 
feel a true regard for the Master who was 


leading a life of perfect piety and purity, and 
was inaugurating a Reformation in spite of odds 
opposing his way. He heard all about the new 
system and its tenets, and felt convinced that here was 
true Vaishnavaism indeed, A royal messenger was 
sent to the Acharya's camp to pay the respects of the 
king, and invite Sri Madhva to the king's dominions. 
The messenger submitted to His Holiness that Padma 
Theertha had given up the books overnight (it was a 
full moon day) and thut a mediator was in charge of 
them, and that Sri Madhva might go over and take 
possession, on receipt of the message. 

Sri Madhva travelled westward and went to 
Kabenadu, the State of the Kumbla ruler. Five miles 
from Kumbla is the village of Madhur. He encamped 
at the Madana Dhipa temple of this village. From 
this place, he proceeded to Vishnumangalam on foot. 

We are told that the procession from Madana- 
dipa's temple to Vishnumangalam was one of 
surpassing grandeur. The bell of the temple was, 
rung, and the party staited on a grand proces- 
sion. A large concourse of people had gathered to 
take Sri Madhva with insignia of honour The 
musicians marched in advance, playing their best airs. 
Sankeertan groups sang of Hari in ecstatic devotion, 
and marched in the procession, heedless of nothing 
but their own all-absorbing song and dance. Brother 
ascetics and Sishyas walked along, chanting Vedic 
Hymns in a slow, majestic, soul-stirring monotone. 
His Holiness walked in the centre, the observed of 
all observers. His face was beaming with smile, and 
his features were sparkling with light. Sri Madhva 
now exhibited an indescribable halo of sanctity 
superadded to the extraordinary Joveliness belonging 


to his handsome form. The garland of green Tulasi 
reached his knees. An umbrella of pearly-white, was 
held over his head. An eager throng walked on every 
side with eyes fixed on him, eager to anticipate his sligh- 
test wish. After the procession had gone some distance, 
the party met the king advancing to welcome His 
Holiness. At sight of the cortege, the king descended 
promptly from his vehicle (evidently a palanquin) 
and walked to Sri Madhva. King as he was, he fell 
prostrate before the holy asceiic, in the dust of the 
road, and rendered becoming obeisance. It was the 
spectacle of a crowned king doing homage to an 
uncrowned king, of royal sceptre acknowledging the 
superiority of the priestly wand, of a ruler of men 
bowing before a ruler of hearts. 

After a brief exchange of amenities suitable to the 
occasion, the march was resumed, the king accompany- 
ing His Holiness on foot, until they reached the great 
temple of Vishnumangalam, which was not far off. 
Here, the inhabitants of about 25 villages had assem- 
bled together, to welcome Sri Madhva. Every one felt 
a peculiar enthusiasm when he joined the throng of 
Bhajana and Sankeertan parties, and posted himself 
somewhere on the path to obtain a glimpse of the 
Master. Everybody felt himself amply rewarded, 
when he at last caught a glance of the Acharya whose 
beaming face had a kind look and courteous bow 
for all. 

The crowd made way for the Master and the king to 
enter the temple. In the biggest hall (mantapam) the 
assembled multitude settled down eager to see and 
longing to listen. Sri Madhva sat on a slightly 
raised seat, facing the assembly of numerous Pandits 
surrounding him. One of the disciples, Hrishikesa 


Theertha, read verses from Srimad Bhagavata and these 
were expounded by Sri Madhva. It was a charming 
scene altogether. 

There sat in this congregation, a Pandit, Trivik- 
ramacharya by name, whose erudition surpassed that 
of all the other Pandits. He was a noteworthy person- 
age whose scholarship had been the subject of 
universal praise. He had heard of Sri Madhva and 
had come to test his worth. 

The personal history of Pandit Trivikrama may 
be told in a few words. He was the son of Pandit 
Subramanya of Likucha lineage and Angeersa Gotra. 
He lived in the neighbourhood of Vishnumangalam in 
a house known as " Kavumutt " a few miles from 

Son Trivikrama was a born genius who is 
said to have lisped in numbers, for, the numbers came. 
A careful course of education brought out all the latent 
powers of the prodigy, so that, when he took to the 
study of Vedanta, he was already an author of renown, 
having composed a very fine poem " Ushaharana ", 
and was a remarkable grammarian and a res- 
pected logician. He studied the huge literature of 
Sankara's Advaita (commonly spoken of as one and 
a quarter lacs of granthas — a grantha being thirtytwo 
words) so thoroughly that he knew it all by heart. 

Pandit Subramanya had however a latent doubt 
that salvation was hard to attain by Advaitic methods. 
This doubt was one of the legacies he transmitted to 
his son while imparting the secrets of Vedanta. But 
it remained buried very deep in the heart. To all 
appearance, Pandit Trivikrama was a famous ex- 
ponent of Sankara's school, whose profound learning 
put everybody to shame. By his side, even Bhanu the 


great Prabhakara, was deemed but a pigmy in 

Armed at every point to meet any attack, this 
Pandit came to Vishnumangalam and joined the 
assembled galaxy of Pandits as a star of the first 
magnitude. He sat silently listening, when Sri 
Madhva continued to expound Sri Mad Bhagavata. 
It made an impression on him, stirred up his deeply 
buried doubts, and created a simultaneous chaos in his 
mind. He had listened to nothing like this before. 
He had no fault to find, with all his skill in hair- 
splitting dialectical subtleties, and with all his ability 
to make Sanskrit language obey his wish and will, like 
a slave, and convey any meaning suited to his purpose. 

The time and the occasion were not suitable for 
making himself known. He therefore waited for a 
better opportunity to engage Sri Madhva in an 
intellectual contest. He was greatly impressed by 
what he had seen and heard. He realised, dimly and 
vaguely as yet, that the ascetic before him was a 
personage of no mean order. 

King Jaya Simha stayed in the mutt, and saw, 
what is seldom given to royal eyes to see, the inner 
life of the Master, the springs and motives of his 
mighty work, the secret of .his vast influence, and the 
growing popularity of his creed. He had for a time 
thrown off the distance of royalty and mingled with 
common-folk, and this had qualified him to receive 
Sri Madhva's blessings. 

From morning to evening and later on till late 
in the starry night, the routine of the Acharya con- 
sisted of ablutions, prayers, worship, and teaching. 
It was a life dedicated absolutely to God's service, 


Bathing with the rise of the sun, Sri Madhva spent 
hours in solitary concentration. Disciples of various 
grades then approached him in large numbers, and 
obtained instruction in Vedanta till noon. He then 
took a second bath at midday, and dressed himself 
in dry robes, scrupulously secured from impure 
touch. The Saligrams and images sanctified by 
the God's invoked presence, were arrayed 01^ 
daises, with great reverence, and an elaborate 
service was gone through, in which all felt that 
they were face to face with God himself and his 
angels and Bhaktas, and not before images and stones, 
A chorus of pious disciples chanted Vedic Hymns, 
Half a dozen Sishyas recited choice selections from the 
scriptures in praise of the Lord. Attendants moved 
about with great alacrity to supply the necessaries, 
Sri Madhva was the central figure of the functions, 
God was present before their eyes, mental and physical, 
and in this conviction, every act denoting homage and 
worship was performed with an intensity of earnest- 
ness and sincerity seldom exhibited even towards 
living emperors. The atmosphere vibrated with emo- 
tion. It was charged with piety of the highest order. 
All eyes were centred on the flowery thrones contain- 
ing the Lord, and on Sri Madhva going through the 
service. A spirit of profound godliness pervaded the 
air, and this sustained the people in defying the 
cravings of hunger and thirst. 

The service usually lasted till 2 or 3 p.m. The 
repast prepared, usually on a large scale, and intended 
for anybody who might choose to partake of it, was 
offered to the Lord and then withdrawn into the 
kitchen. Thousands of people then approached Sri 
Madhva to receive holy water and Tulasi leaves. 
Three spoons were poured one after another, 


in the palm, by the Guru's own hand, and were 
swallowed by the recipient at once, together with a 
few leaves of Tulasi that had been in contact with the 
Lord in the course of the worship and were how set 
apart for distribution. No body that had come to the 
Mutt, to see, and to take part in the public worship, 
would dream of departing without receiving Theertha 
and Prasad. The practice originated by the founder 
is kept up to the present day in all the Mutts. The 
eagerness of the rushing multitude to obtain the holy 
water and the leaves, and then partake of the meal 
offered soon after, however rough and poor it might be, 
bears eloquent testimony to the living reality of the 
faith that dominates the Madhva community to this 

The sceptic may laugh at this, as an aggravated item 
of credulitv and superstition. But the belief is not con- 
fined to M&dhvas alone, that shrines, holy water, holy 
flowers, and divine Prasad, transmit spiritual efficacy. 
Lord Gouranga alias Krishna Chaitanya, of Bengal, 
whose life may be read in a hundred books, transmitted 
Hari Bhakti to thousands of people by mere touch* 
Gouranga lived in the sixteenth century and his life is 
no fiction. His work has been immortalised by 
hundreds of Bengali and Sanskrit Biographies that 
minutely set forth his words and deeds. Gouranga 
treated Bhakti as a kind of electricity or magnet- 
ism, and himself as an inexhaustible store-house 
thereof. As he walked about, he chose any 
subject he pleased, a barber, or a washerman, a 
Mahomadan or an atheist, and simply touched him. 
The physical contact was enough to convey the 
emotion. The man thus charged danced with devotion, 
and became in his turn a source of propagation 
himself, able by mere touch, to induce a similar 


emotion in anybody he chose, or happened, to touch. 
Krishna Chaitanya never preached a word. He 
apparently wrote no work on philosophy or religion. 
Yet, his is the most living faith in Bengal, a true 
Vaishnavaism oi lofty love. It is said that he 
converted thousands of people by this method of com- 
municating spiritual efficacy through a physical medium, 
be it Tulasi, Theertha, or Prasad, or something else 
that he chose to touch and inspire. The reader is 
referred to Sishir Kumar Ghose's excellent " Life of 
Lord Gouranga" a book which amply repays perusal. 
The most important point to be remembered is, that the 
fountain-head should be a well-stocked reservoir of 
true sanctity and spiritual force. Otherwise, mere 
water and leaves will convey nothing obviously. Sri 
Madhva was such a fountain-source of merit, and he 
was therefore eminently capable of sanctifying all 
that came in contact with him. 

While at Vishnumangalam, Sri Madhva recovered 
his library from the hands of mediators, and restored 
it to the possession of his librarian, Sankarachar, King 
Jaya Simha was instrumental in bringing about this 
result without further trouble. His Holiness blessed 
the king for his kindness and heln, and gave him 
leave to depart. He left the mutt an altered man. 

Sri Madhva made a stay of some length at 
Vishnumangalam, which was evidently a favourite 
centre of camping for him, and proceeded to the 
village of Amaralaya (Kudilu in vernacular). Here, 
he camped in an important temple, and spent most of 
his time in explaining his Sootra Bhashya to learned 
audiences. Pandit Trivikrama who was waiting for a 
suitable opportunity presented himself in the mutt, 
at this place, and challenged a discussion. What 


followed was an epoch-making controversy that lasted 
for fifteen days with unabated vigour, .and ended in 
the surrender and conversion of Trivikrama. 

A full account is given by the Pandit's son himself, 
whose well-known Madhva Vijia is the most 
popular treatise on Sri Madhva's life 

We learn that the disputation covered the whole 
range of philosophical systems, current as well as 
obsolete, modern as well as ancient. Sri Madhva 
attacked and vanquished every shade and variety of 
atheism first, and then refuted those theistic systems 
also which nominally conceded a God but vested no 
God-head in Him. Monism came in for the largest 
share of criticism, and yielded at last, in spite of the 
vigorous defence set up by the Pandit. 

It will be tedious in this connection to descend 
into fuller particulars of this debate and try to set forth 
the arguments used pro and con. For the position 
finally established, the reader is referred to Part II 
of this book, were an attempt his made to point out the 
chief tenets of the Madhva philosophy. 

The result of this dialectical triumph was, that 
the defeated Pandit gave up his old faith and 
begged for admission into the new. He prayed to 
be accepted as a pupil and initiated into the truths of 
Dwaita Vedanta. Here was an honest debatant who 
fought a pitched battle, and lost it. He made a 
brave defence on behalf of Monism and vested interests, 
and when he was convinced that his position was 
untenable, he harboured no ill-will whatever at the 
defeat he sustained. He had the strength of mind, and 
the courage of conviction, to lay aside all conceit of 
scholarship and become a convert. With most people, 



an academical defeat carries conviction no deeper than 
the lip. With Trivikramacharya, it sank deep in his 
heart. It may be mentioned, that this Pandit's brother 
Sankaracharya by name, was already a disciple of Sri 
Madhva. He was the Master s librarian, and it was 
from his custody, that the books had been stolen. 
Pandit Trivikrama now followed the example of his 
younger brother. 

The conversion of Pandit Trivikramacharya 
was an event of great importance. It turned the tide of 
affairs to an extent that no similar event had done be- 
fore. The example of a Pandit of the highest calibre 
giving up the faith in which he was born and brought up, 
produced far-reaching results. It caused a flutter every- 
where. Those who were hitherto sneering and laughing, 
ceased to sneer and laugh, and felt puzzled by the 
doubt whether Sri Madhva might not be right after all. 
Those who were already wavering, hesitated no 
longer to cross the Rubicon, Hereafter, it was not an 
isolated band of men, or mere scattered units, few and 
far between, that rallied round the banner of Dwaita 
Vedanta. The recruits flowed in, every day, seeking 
admission into the corps of the devoted, and offering 
to fight the battle of the Faithful. 

They flocked everyday to the Mutt, and sought 
initiation. Whenever Sri Madhva was satisfied that 
the seeker was sincere, he allowed the conversion, 
and signalized it by a moderate brand of heated 
seals. In this manner, hundreds of men and women 
received at Sri Madhvas hands heated imprints 
of metallic moulds representing Sri Narayana's 
Chakram and Sankha on several parts of their 
body. The persons thus admitted were, from 
this time forward, a new order of men. They 


felt themselves knit to Sri Madhva and to one 
another, by a bond of spiritual . brother-hood 
stronger than any ties of kith and kin. They 
sallied forth into the world full of the new spirit, 
and eager to spread the faith. They wore the dis- 
tinctive badges of the new order, consisting of namams 
(tracings) in semi-liquid gopichandan (white kadlin, 
a kind of earth) on the fore-head, and the temples, 
at the root of both arms, on the abdomen, both sides of 
the chest, on the four sides of the neck, at the back, 
and at the root of the spine, together with superficial 
imprints of Chakra, Sankha, Gada, and Padma, 
produced by metallic mudras (seals) dipped in the 
gopichandan paste. It was no longer a rare sight 
to meet such persons, for, their number was fast in- 
creasing. They were known as true [," Sad Vaishnvas " 
and " Tatwavadies" (truth-speakers) whose rigid theism 
and high morals extorted admiration. Pandit Trivi- 
kramacharya gave an additional impetus to the 
religious brother-hood. His scholarship commanded 
respect, and his devotion to the cause was unbounded. 
Sri Madhva assigned him the duty and the privilege of 
writing a commentary of his Sootra Bhashya, for, it 
was found that the language of the Bhashya was 
so brief and so condensed as to tax the Pandits 
and the people hard. The Pandit cheerfully 
undertook the task and soon produced the famous 
work, Tatwa Pradeepika by name, which is still an 
authoritative exposition on the subject, though, no 
doubt, eclipsed by the more luminous Tatwa Prakasika 
of Jaya Theerthacharya, who came to the Pontifical 
seat fifty years later. 

In the course of his work, Pandit Trivikrama 
encountered difficulties which severely tried his powers. 
The enigmatic Sootras and the condensed Bhashya 


required a fuller elucidation at the hands of the Master 
himself. From first to last, the aphorisms created 
doubts and difficulties, such as could not be dealt with 
in the Bhashya whose scope was limited and 

The Pandit submitted to Sri Madhva that another 
commentary from his masterly pen was absolutely 
necessary, in which, the chief topics should be discussed 
more fully and freely, so as to enable the Sishyas to 
fathom the depths of Dwaita Vedanta to some extent. 
The Pandit pointed out, as he alone was competent to 
do, with special reference to the works already 
composed by Sri Madhva, that though the field 
traversed had been large and varied, further light was 
sorely needed to illumine the path. 

The works already written by Sri Madhva 
were : — 

i. Geeta Bhashya. 

2. Sootra Bhashya and Anu Bhashya. 

3. Commentaries on the 10 Upanishads. 

4. Mahabharata Tatparya Nirnaya. 

5. Bhagavata Tatparya Nirnaya. 

0. The Ten prakaranas, including Tatwa 
Nirnaya, Yamaka Bharata, Sadachara 
Smriti, and Jayanti Kalpa etc., etc. 

The result of the Pandit's request, supported as 
it was by the prayer of other Sishyas too, was the 
production of ' Anu Vyakhyana ' in simple verse. The 
thoughts were so much at his command, that Sri 
Madhva dictated the verses with ease to four sishya- 
amanuenses, and completed the (four) divisions 
(Adhyayas) of the book, at the same time. 


Though the execution of this great work 
was very quick, it was the master-piece of the 
author. To render justice to its hidden depths, the 
reader must resort to the well-known commentary 
of Jaya Theerthacharya named ' Nyaya Sudha '. 
A more masterly commentary is unknown in the whole 
range oi Sanskrit literature. It is an immortal 
work worthy of the great author, and worthy too 
of the great Master (Sri Madhva) whose hidden 
thoughts it has sought to unearth for the benefit of 
the Sishya world. One docs not know what to 
admire most in this book, so remarkably perfect is 
it in every way, that it is without a peer of its kind. 
No Madhva lays claim to be a Pandit without a 
mastery of Nyaya Sudha, and he who has drunk 
of this delicious fountain of knowledge, needs 
little else to finish his education. From the 
admirable way in which the author of this great 
commentary cast the search-lights of truth and 
knowledge into every nook and corner of doubt, 
errors, and ignorance, and dispelled the same, Jaya 
Theertha rendered to Sri Madhva a service whose 
value it is impossible to overrate. Tradition says that 
jaya Theertha lived as a bullock in the time of Sri 
Madhva himself, and was always employed to carry 
the load of the Masters sacred books, in his tours. It 
is stated that this bullock used to be present, reposing 
at ease, and chewing the cud, during the time when 
Sri Madhva was engaged in teaching his pupils. The 
bullock listened with attention, and Sri Madhva knew 
that it imbibed the lessons more vividly than many of 
his human sishyas. It is added that the duller lot among 
these even grew jealous at the circumstance, that Sri 
Madhva seemed to address the bullock more intently 
than he addressed the pupils. When somebody 


once questioned His Holiness, as to who was going 
to write the commentaries of his works, it is said that 
he replied, promptly, that the bullock would. This 
irritated some of the sishyas so much so that they 
hurled a curse at the beast, saying, it should suffer 
death bitten by a serpent. His Holiness when he 
heard of it, gave the language of the curse a 
slight turn, with the result, that the bullock 
was bitten by a serpent, and the latter died at 
once in consequence. The poison did no harm to 
the beast, by virtue of Sri Madhvas " Dw T adasa 
Strotram " which the Master caused the bullock itself 
to recite. 

The idea underlying is that the commentator 
must have derived inspiration directly from the Master 
himself, in a personal communion, and that, otherwise, 
it is impossible to understand the perfection with 
which the commentaries of Jayatheertha elucidate 
even the obscurest passages of the Master. 



Old Madhyageha Bhattacharya, the father of Sri 
Madhva, was a blessed man in every way. He lived 
in the village of Pajaka to a ripe old age. Sri 
Madhva's younger brother who lived with his parents 
was an ideal son who nursed them with the tenderest 
regard. The evening of fife was, in this instance, 
marked by a serenity of peace, which few old people 
are fortunate enough to lay by and enjoy. Madhyageha 
recalled to mind the chequered events of his 
early life, the sorrows he had had, the grief of early 
bereavements in the death of sons, his prolonged 
penances ahd prayers for male issue, the divine grace 
in conferring Sri Madhva on him, the ecstasies of 
delight he had felt when Sri Madhva exhibited his 
leeks as a boy in his humble home, and the excrucia- 
ting agonies he suffered when the parting came. All 
this he recollected, and more. His heart was filled 
with thankfulness that God had willed it all for the 
best. His strength was giving way to the slow ravages 
of time. The infirmities of age made him feel that life 
was ebbing away. He did not chafe at this, nor wished 
for a renewed lease of life and vigour. He had seen 
enough, suffered and enjoyed quite enough. His favour- 
ite studies, Sri Mad Bhagavataand Mahabharata had 
taught him a philosophical equanimity that fortified his 
mind to look death boldly in the face. His work 
was done and he was prepared to depart. He was 
a type of the holy Hindu who makes the journey 
of life in the path laid down by Dharma, without 
turning to the right or to the left, and reaches the 


goal with nothing but happy memories and joyful 
hopes. At last, he took leave of the world, reposing 
trust in Narayana, and thinking of His Lotus Feet to 
save him. 

Sri Madhva's mother did not survive this bereave- 
ment long. The death of a husband is a serious calamity 
to any Hindu lady, and more especially to ladies of 
an extremely orthodox type. Thus, it came to pass, 
that the old mother followed Madhyageha's foot- 
steps, and kicked off the mortal coil soon after. The 
filial duties enjoined by the* Hindu law are somewhat 
taxing, those to be performed after the death of 
parents being perhaps more onerous than those 
during their life, Sri Madhva had nothing to do 
with the obsequies, having renounced all worldly 
ties and bonds, at the Renunciation. The law 
deems an ascetic civilly dead, and excuses him from 
all duties incidental to sonship, though, no doubt, 
it relentlessly imposes on him, others of a very 
exacting nature, in their place, belonging to the 
last Asrama of the Hindu ecclesiastical scheme. 
Hence, the younger son performed the obsequies 
with a due sense of duty. It evidently taxed his 
resources hard. 

The reader may remember that Madhyagehacharya 
was not overflowing in wealth. He had some lands, 
the extent of which it is not possible to guess, and some 
property besides, not worth mentioning. He was able 
just to make both ends meet, by a life of thrift. Simple 
living and high thinking is the rule of a Brahmin's 
life, though, in modern times, western civilisation is 
playing duck and drake with this rule. Madh- 
yageha had cared little for personal comibrts. 
His younger son had followed his example, * $l£ 


had made an excellent use, in youth, of the opportun- 
ities he had, for acquiring a sound education. He had 
learnt under his father, and presumably under other 
teachers too, all that there was to learn in secular 
and sacred books. This education, it must be confessed, 
was ill calculated to bring him wealth or add to his 
worldly goods. On the other hand, it turned his eyes 
heavenward. He had remained an honest son attend- 
ing on *his aged parents with devotion, and cultivating 
habits of study and concentration in the moments of 
leisure that he could snatch. He had been virtually 
a recluse though ostensibly in society, and had been 
simply biding his time to be released from the ties that 
held him to home. 

In this frame of mind, he had paid little attention 
to business affairs, had collected rents very indifferently, 
and had occasionally run into debts. Ill-luck, failure 
of the season, and the usury of the money-lender, had 
pulled 5 him low, and confirmed him strongly in his 
resolve to break through the worldly bonds, and 
dedicate his life to the service of God, like his 
venerated brother. He had been biding his time, and 
it came at last. 

After discharging the solemn trust, he went to 
Sri Madhva's camp in the kingdom of Jaya Simha, 
and conveyed the news of the domestic incidents that 
had given him release. Sri Madhva received the 
*hews with emotion, for he had cherished his parents 
in a corner of the heart, wherever he had been. 
He had been grateful to his father for his phenomenal 
fondness, and more so, to his mother, for the ideal 
virtues that had distinguished her. 

Sri Madhva's brother told him all about the last 
illness of the parents, and everything besides, relating 


to his household affairs, and wound up by unburdening 
his nptind of its long-cherished desire. He said that 
th$ world had ceased to have any attractions for him, 
and that he must either become a Sanyasin or die of a 
broken heart. He begged Sri Madhva to accept him 
and consecrate him as a monk \yithout delay. 

The time was however inauspicious for the 
purpose. Sri Madhva had no wish to hurry matters. 
He prevailed on his brother to go back to his home 
and wait at least till the end of the ChathurmSsyam 
(4 months') term. When the autumn was passed, and 
the 'vow period' ended, Sri Madhva set out for 
Pajakakshetra. King Jaya Simha, in whose domi- 
nions he was then staying, was grieved very much 
at the impending separation, for, he had grown 
devotedly attached to His Holiness. His importun- 
ities to stay, were so pressing, that the Acharya could 
not lightly set them aside. He managed however, 
after a time, by tactful explanations, to obtain 

Arriving at Pajakakshetra, he caused the rest of the 
obsequies to be performed by his brother in strict 
compliance with the Shastras. When the duties to 
the dead were over, including the anniversaries, there 
remained no further impediment to the realisation of 
the brother's eager desire to enter the Holy Order. In 
begging for Sanyasa, the applicant was found to be 
thoroughly sincere. He had mastered the Shastras, 
subdued passions and desires, conquered attachments, 
and fully equipped himself for Renunciation. 

A suitable day was fixed and the ceremony was 
gone through. Sri Madhva accepted his brother 
into the ascetic order, initiated him duly and installed 
him a Sanyasin under the designation of Vishnu 

XVII.] VtSki*tf ; TMEE^tttA Al^I> Otrifeft Si<&YA$. Jd$ 

Theertha. The Guru saw with satisfaction, not un- 
mixed with pride, that the recruit gave promise by 
his learning, habits, and bent of mind, of proving to 
be one of the holiest of the holy brotherhood. ' 

The ordination of Vishnu Theertha took place 
near Kanwa Theertha. This holy tank is, it is need- 
less to remind the readers, one mile from Manjeshwar, 
and about n miles from Mangalore to the south. 
Vishnu Theertha was not the only person who 
received ordination on this occassion. Seven 
other persons took orders on this memorable 
day. They got shaved together, bathed in the 
Kanwa Theerta, and sat on a platform of the Aswatha 
tree, to receive the Initiation at the hands of the 
Master. These spots are still remembered with 
clearness, and pointed out to pilgrims. 

These eight persons were the first ascetics of the 
eight monasteries of Udupi, whose line has continued 
to this day. They arc the eight monks that took 
charge of the Shrine of Sri Krishna from the 
Master. Their names and the Mutts are given 
hereunder : — 

i. Vishnu Theertha,, Head of Sode Mutt. 

2. Janardana Theertha, Do Krishnapura Mutt 

3. Vamana Theertha, Do Kanoor Mutt. 

4. Narasimha Theertha, Do Adhamar Mutt 

5. Upendra Theertha, Do Puttugey Mutt 
6* Rama Theertha, Do Seeroor Mutt. 

7. Hrishikesa Theertha, Do Palimar Matt. 

8. Akshobhya Theertha, Do Pejawar Mutt. 

At this holy spot, there is, even now, a Mutt 
belonging to Pejawar Swami and also a Brindavan of 
Vijia Dhwajacharya, rhe Pejawar ascetic who has left a 
renowned commentary of Sir Mad Bhagavata. 


Soon after the ordination, Vishnu Theertha parted 
from the Master to visit all the sacred rivers and 
shrines of Indfa. He made a long tour through the 
length and breadth of the country, bathed in every 
sacred river, worshipped in every shrine, and returned 
at the completion of the tour to Harischandra Hill- 
In the caves and glens of its hilly jungle, he shut 
himself up, to observe rigid penances for a subjugation 
of the flesh, and to practise Yoga. He gave up not 
only luxuries but even necessaries to a very unusual 
degree. Every fifth day, he took nothing more than 
Panchagavya to allay the devouring appetite, and this, 
if some disciple brought and kept it in an urn at the 
foot of the hills. He pitched his abode at a height, 
too chill to be endured, in natural crevices too cramped 
and too risky for human shelter. Thus he passed 
months and years, furnishing to Sishyas an object- 
lesson of piety, resignation, and penance, such as they 
had never seen before. 

The world seldom fails to honour merit. Men 
watched the remarkable hermit with interest and felt 
irresistably drawn towards him. One man after 
another, approached him in his solitudes, and begged 
leave to attend on him. Some entreated him to accept 
pupils, so that, his vast learning and profound 
scholarship might not be thrown away. Anirudha 
Theertha and Badarayana Theertha are two of the 
disciples who received ordination at his hands. By 
dint of persuasion and entreaty, Anirudha Theertha 
prevailed on him to leave the mountain solitudes, and 
go over to Udupi. He complied with reluctance. His 
austerity was the subject of admiration everywhere. 
He should have come to be deified, but for the more 
illustrious brother who eclipsed him by a piety more 


It is easy to guess that the brothers took each his 
own route, in treading the path to the common goal. The 
elder had a solemn mission to fulfil. He, therefore, 
sought people and delivered his message unto all who 
deserved. The younger avoided society and sought 
retirement as best suited to his ends. The elder wrote 
works after works for the benefit of Sishyas. The young- 
er spent most of his time in introspection. Probably, 
their tastes and temperaments too, led them in 
different ways, though, of course, both were rigid 
Vaishnavas, and both were of identical mind in beliefs. 
Thus it came to pass that Vishnu Theertha felt the 
bustle of town-life too hot and irksome. He longed 
for the mountain-wilds, for the solitudes of nature, and 
wished to roam about as a free hermit. The Western 
Ghauts, close at hand, which bounded the Canara 
Country to the east, afforded him facility for gratifying 
his cravings. He climbed the heights of the Ghauts, and 
pitched his residence on the peak of Subrahmania. It 
was a magnificent forest hitherto unexplored by men, 
and inaccessible to any but the aboriginal tribes of 
the Hill. Vishnu Theertha found the spot cut out for 
his taste. It was an ideal spot which answered his 
hearts longings. He consequently fixed his abode 
here. Among the sacred places of the west coast 
that the Madhva pilgrim visits, Subrahmania even 
now ranks high for sanctity. Vishnu Theertha 
founded a Mutt at the place. The impetus trans- 
mitted by his austerities still permeates the 
institution. It must not be forgotten, however, that 
Sri Madhva lent the weight of his approbation 
to his brother's plans. The idea would not have 
attained fruition without his sympathy and support 
It was highly gratifying to him to see his brother, 
till recently immersed in worldly cares and concerns, 


turning out an ornament of a monk. He, therefore, 
helped him to make the new Mutt a success. Out 
of the holy 'Saligram-stones he had brought from 
Vyasa's Badarikasrama, he deposited one at 
Subrahmania for his brother's worship. In people's 
eyes, this largely enhanced the importance of 
Vishnu Theertha's retreat. 

Apart from the eight ascetics intended for Sri 
Krishna's special service, other ascetics were also 
ordained by the Master. Chief among these, 
was Padmanabha Theertha. He was Sobhana 
Bhatta of the Telugu country and was the first 
convert to the new faith. Padmanabha Theertha 
perpetuated the line which, later on, branched into 
Mutts now known as Uttradi Mutt, Vyasaraya Mutt, 
Sumateendra Mutt, and Mulabagal Mutt. Sri Madhva 
evidently felt a great regard for this pupil of his, for he 
chose him for the pontifical seat in succession to himself, 
an honour that could not have been dreamt of by 
any one who did not truly deserve the same. 

Thus, of the three prominent scholars of the day 
who entered this fold, Trivikrama Pandit continued a 
grahasta (householder). Vishnu Theertha founded the 
Sode Mutt and was ofthc holiest type, and Padmanabha 
Theertha became the ascetic designate to succeed Sri 
Madhva himself. Trivikrama Pandit wrote the famous 
Tatwa Pradeepa, the first known commentary of the 
Acharya's Bhashya, and Padmanabha Theertha wrote 
Sanyaya Ratnavali the first known exposition of the 
Acharya's great work, u Anuvyakhyana ". Scores of 
disciples followed to receive ordination and blessing 
from His Holiness. Nara Hari Theertha, Madhava 
Theertha, and Akshhobhya Theertha, are some of 
the well-known names. These were the successors 
of Padmanabha Theertha to the Headship of the Mutt, 


one afteranother. Among thegrihastha Sishyas, besides 
Trivikrama Pandit, his younger brother Sankaracharya 
and another Sankaracharya of the same family are 
well-known. In this connection, we cannot ignore 
Pandit Narayatlacharya (the son of Trivikrama Pandit) 
the author of the poem " Madhva Vijaya." This 
work consisting of sixteen chapters in various metres 
is a delightful account of the great Acharya's life and 
doings. This author has been condemned as an 
inaccurate panegyrist, and what not. But his work has 
survived ail adverse criticism, and enjoys, to this 
day, a popularity that no other work does in 
the Madhva community. There is a charming 
music about its variegated metre, which is quite 
unique. The manner and the matter of the narrative 
conveys a peculiar thrill "The grace and the 
elegance of the style is very telling even to imper- 
fect scholars of Sanskrit. It presents Sri Madhva 
in his true perspective, as a hero of the highest 
rank, such as he indeed was. The idea in some 
quarters seems to be that a biographer should 
measure great men by tape and rod, take their 
vertical and horizontal dimensions, and make them 
out to be small men after all. It is considered a fashion 
in the name of historical profundity and impartiality, 
to hold up heroes to contempt and expose their 
so-called old doctrines to sneer and scorn. 

The author of Sri Madhva Vijia was a great 
admirer and worshipper of the great personage whose 
life he wrote. He was almost a contemporary of 
Sri Madhva, and must have been a witness, with 
his father, of some at least of the chief events 
set forth in his narrative. Hence he wrote with the 
fullness of personal knowledge, and with an enthusiasm 
natural to recent converts. 


The Last Days. 

It has been noticed that Sri Madhva travelled 
once through Southern India and twice through 
the North. Besides these travels, the Master per- 
formed many a small tour in Canara and Mysore. 
He honoured the country from Manjeshwar to 
Subramanya specially, with frequent visits. He 
knew parts ol Mysore at least very well. The banks 
of the Bhadra near Mysore were his favourite resort 
for tapas. 

The sixteenth chapter of Sri MadhvaVijia records 
a few incidents in connection with a tour in this tract. 
The master spent some time in Mysore, and passed 
through Saridantara, Nerenki, Vydianatha, Ujara, and 
Kadathala, to Kanwa. He halted in every important 
place and did many a wonder. 

On the banks ol Gomati, Sri Madhva repeated 
the wonderful performance he once exhibited at Goa 
years before. A Sudra King scoffed at the saying 
that the recital of a particular Vedic Sookta or 
Sooktas (Hymns) would cause seeds to sprout and 
grow. He assumed that this was impossible, and 
therefore attacked the truth and veracity of the whole 
body of Vedic teachings as a pack of untruths. 
Socially, he was a great man. He was an anti- 
Brahmin of a malicious type. His views received a 
leaden weight from his rank. Sri Madhva who, 
ordinarily, would have paid little heed to sneering 
criticism of this sort, thought within himself that the 
occasion might be availed of to make a demonstration. 
None but he could do it, and if he chose not to, the 
thing would remain unproved, for ever. Sri Madhva 

*Y1H»3 T**£ WU5T PAYS, ^09 

accepted the king's challenge, and took u£> a few seeds 
in his palm. He recited the hymn in question ' l ^^rsIfan& ,, 
slowly, with the rise and fail of Vedic music, and in a 
manner that no Brahmin had heard it ricited before. 
The result was indeed as the Sruti declared. The 
recitation produced the same effect on the seeds as his 
soul -stirring music had done at Goa. The seeds grew 
into plants, followed by flowers and fruits. The 
marvel struck the king mute. 

To the last, Sri Madhva's physical and mental 
power continued unabated. He was frequently 
furnishing instances of the iron frame he possessed, 
and of the indomitable strength ot his muscle. Once 
upon a time, two brothers Kodanjadi and another, 
who evidently had the reputation of extraordinary 
strength, happened to visit the Mutt. Their boast 
reached Sri Madhva's ears, and they were consequently 
called to his presence. Gandavata (Kodanjadi) said 
that he had once carried a flag-staff of Sreekanta 
temple, too heavy for 30 men's united strength, He 
boasted further, that he had, by a kick, felled a living 
cocoanut tree. Sri Madhva could not repress a 
smile when the brothers claimed to be matchless in 
strength. He allowed them a trial. He fixed a toe of 
his on the floor, and asked them to dislodge it, if they 
could. Kodanjadi came up and tried all his strength. 
Sweating hard with fatigue, and trying all his might, 
over and over again, he gave up the trial as hopeless 

On another occasion, and at a different place, 
another Sandow turned up. His boast was that he 
could lift and carry weights that fifty men could not 
Such a feat he had accomplished, they said, by 
triumphantly carrying about a ladder too heavy for 
fifty able-bodied men. Sri Madhva gave Win M% 


neck, and asked him to squeeze it flat if he could. 
'Meantime, -he began to recite a Vedic hymn at a high 
pitch, with suitable intonation of voice. Poorva Vata 
(this was the Sandow s name) went on pressing as hard 
as he could, but the recital went on gloriously, all the 
same; the ringing voice was not affected in the least, 
not a crack appeared, no hoarseness, no lowering 
of pitch, nothing at all to indicate that the vocal 
organ was under pressure. An apology of Bheema 
was of course no match to a real Bheemasena. 

Strong and weighty as he was, Sri Madhva 
once caused a thin bachelor-boy to lift and carry 
him on his shoulders round the four streets of a 
Nrisimha Temple. He sat so light that the boy 
seemed to carry a feather rather than an Avatar of 

While on this subject of Sri Madhva's supernatural 
strength, reference may be made to an inscription re- 
corded in Rice's Mysore Gazateer, which proves what 
is mentioned in Madhva Vijia, Chapter XVI. verse. 9. 

At page four hundred, the gazateer has the follow- 
ing description, "Kalasa is a village in the Bale-Honnur 
Taluq, situated in thirteen, fourteen' North Latitude, 
and seventy-five twenty-six E long., near the right 
bank of the Bhadra, by road, twenty-four miles south- 
west of the kasba (Mysore.) It is situated in a valley 
surrounded by the lofty hills of the Western Ghauts 
range, and, at the southern base of Merti, the grand 
hill of Kalasa. It contains a large temple dedicated to 
Kalaseswara, surrounded with inscriptions of the 
Bhairsa Wodayar family of Karkala. The temple is 
said to have been founded by Santa Bindu, a king from 
the north, in order to atone for the sin of slaying 
animals in the chase. It was therefore probably a 


Jain temple originally. Mounds covering ruins on 
all sides point to the existence of a large town in 
former times. It was included in the dominion of 
Huncha and of the Karkaia chiefs descended there^ 
from. Subsequently, it became the residence 
of the Karkaia chiefs. The town then extended 
so as to include the present villages of Melangadi, 
Keelangadi and Rudrapada, Going through 
Melangadi, and keeping on to the river, 
a sacred bathing place, called ' Ambu Theertha \ is 
reached, where the stream rushes very deep between 
some water-worn rocks. At one point, is a large 
boulder, a big square-shaped stone, placed horizont- 
ally on another. On the former, is an inscription in 
Sanskrit, stating that Sri Madhvacharya brought and 
placed it there with one hand/' 

This inscription is of Kadur District, Mudgeri 
No. 89. It runs :— tfwmN|lfj>h^H *H^**ll!fr<fawM II 

This archaeological discovery gives food for 
reflection even to those sceptically disposed, and 
is hailed with joy by those who believe in Sri 
Madhva's supernatural powers. From Madhva Vijia, 
it is gathered that His Holiness came one day to 
the river bank and found a huge boulder lying 
there. On questioning the people about its history, 
he was informed that the stone had been brought by 
a thousand persons, and deposited there, in order to 
serve as a bridge over the deep current, and that, 
owing to its great weight and natural difficulties at the 
particular spot, the design had been abandoned. Sri 
Madhva at once lifted the stone with a single hand 
and placed it where it had been desired and intended 
it should be. There is no room for doubt, from the 
extensive ruins in the neighbourhood, that Ambu 


Theertha tfe^n abutted on a populous town and that 
it was a baching ghaut largely resorted to by the 
townsmen of Kalasa, Melangadi, Keelangadi, and 

Instances of extraordinary eating have been noted 
in previous chapters. Instances of prolonged fasting 
Wjere only too common* On some occasions, it is 
said, when he saw that the repast prepared by a poor 
host was limited in quantity and hardly sufficient 
under ordinary circumstances for a large party, he 
still caused it to be distributed among hundreds of 
men with the result that everyone of them left with 
a satisfied appetite. 

Sri Madhva took a straight westerly route from 
AmbuTheertha passing through Subramanya and Mad- 
hyatala. On the way he halted in many of the import- 
ant plates. He passed through Saridantara Doab, the 
belt between Kumara Dhara and Netravati, at a time 
when the country lay parched up by want of rain and 
the people were in the throes of a bitter famine. It 
is said that the advance of His Holiness brought 
relief to the suffering people. A few good showers 
fell, which changed the situation visibly* 

At Parantee alias Neranki, he found that an 
ancient temple of renown had been closed owing 
to the faction of the managers and Poojaries, a state 
of things only too common now-a-days. He summoned 
a large gathering of the leading citizens and the 
temple authorities, and < pleaded warmly and zeal- 
ously to bring about an amicable settlement. In 
half a day, the differences were made up, and the 
temple gates opened to the public for worship. 

XVtllij THE LAST DAYS, 21$ 

He next visited the temple of Vydianath and 
offered worship to the deity. In this place, hfe 
composed the work known as ' Krishnamrita 
Maharnava/ codifying in a short compass, the rules 
regulating the Yakadasi fast, for the benefit of a 
devoted Sishya, It would appear that Sri Madhva 
reached Vydianath on a new-moon day, late in the 
evening* A wicked king had harrassed and forced him 
to leave his last camp suddenly. By forced marches, 
the party had pushed on to Vydianath and reached it 
at a belated hour. Here, a warm reception was 
accorded to the Guru. The Pooja took place and 
the Biksha dinner followed. The host and his people 
could not, however, partake of the Prasad, because 
they had already had their dinner in proper time at 
noon, and supper was not possible, as it was a new- 
moon day. Sri Madhva asked them to sit down and 
take meals in his company, absolving them of any 
blame attaching to it. This particular family takes a 
second meal on the new-moon day, even now, in 

At Ucha Bhooti, alias Ujare, a furious 
Controversy took place over some moot point. A 
large congregation of Pandits fancied that though 
Sri Madhva might be a great scholar and authority 
on the Upanishads, his knowledge was probably 
poor in the ritualist section. With this idea, they 
swooped down upon him with minute questions and 
inquiries. They were however surprised to find 
that Sri Madhva was quite equal to the occasion. 
In this connection, he composed the work <( Karma 
Nirnaya " being the exposition of a Vedic Hymn 

wimivft n 

Sri Madhva lived seventy-nine years and some 
months, from the Vijia Dasami day, Vilambi, to the. 


ninth day of the bright fortnight in the month of 
Magha of ti\t year Pingala. For some months, 
before he chose to disappear from earthly environ- 
ments, he evidently stayed on the banks of Kanwa 
Theertha. It must be during his sojourn in this 
camp, that Nara Hari Theertha turned up from 
Orissa with the images of Rama and Sita. For 
further particulars, the reader is referred to the episode 
related at some length at the end of chapter XI I . 
On the fifth day, in the bright fortnight of Aswina, 
in the year Pingala, i e., three months and sixteen 
days before Sri Madhva became invisible, Narahari 
Theertha, one of the earliest disciples of his Holiness, 
brought and presented the images. If the idols were 
already sacred, by their antiquity, by their association 
with Sri Ramachandra himself, and by long ages of 
worship in the royal chapels of Seetha and Laksh- 
mana and in the Pooja houses of devotees like 
Hanuman and the Pandavas, they became doubly 
charged with renewed sanctity by the spiritual 
greatness of Sri Madhva. Better than silver and 
gold, better than lands and Jaghirs, better than titles 
and privileges, the Mutts of the Madhva community 
value the possession of these idols into whose 
apparently inanimate forms sages without number 
have from time immemorial breathed invocations and 
prayers out of surcharged hearts of devotion. 

Image - worship is a large question. It has 
suffered deadly attack from iconoclasts both physical 
and theoretical from every quarter. The foreign 
missionary levels all his blows at it in the belief that 
it is the most vulnerable point of the Hindu system. 
The University - man suppresses a sneer rising to 
his lips out of a conflict between patriotism on one 
hand and intellectual honesty on the other. He 


wishes in his heart of hearts that this practice were 
swept away, and sees, with a sigh, no signs of the 

Of late, however, the other side of the question 
is receiving some advocacy and support. The 
condemnation is decreasing in volume and acrimony, 
thanks mainly to Theosophical Teachings. The image 
is getting somewhat tolerated as a help to con- 
centration, as a focus of spiritual vibrations or as 
a remembrancer of high ideas. Baba Bharati puts 
it strongly when, in referring to America, he says, 
" They will bow to man, they will idolize man, but not 
God. Every man here idolizes his lady-love, and every 
lady idolizes her lover, with more or less abject 
worship. They will worship the picture of a lover 
or a lady-love day and night, but they will not wor- 
ship the image of God, even in a picture. They 
will pay homage to a moving form of wealth, or of 
physical beauty, or sensuality, but hate to think, and 
much less worship, an image of God. They are 
worse idolators than the Hindoos whom they affect 
to hate as heathens. They worship idols of money 
and human flesh ; the Hindoos worship idols of 
God. They worship material forms of mere matter; 
the Hindoos worship sanctified forms of the 
Divine Spirit or its attributes. Let them raise 
their standards of idol-worship first, in order to be 
worthy to talk of the purely transcendental idolatry 
of the Hindu". 

One who dares not claim a monopoly to wisdom 
or common sense, may well hesitate to condemn Sri 
Madhva's efforts to secure these images as mere 
aberrations of superstition. Nara Hari Theertha 
waited for Twelve long years or more, during the 


disability of an Infant ruler to obtain them as gifts. 
This herculean endeavour was out of place, if these 
idolators regarded every block of wood or stone good 
enough to deify or bow to. With eight Saligrams of 
Vyasa in his possession, with other images consecrated 
by himself in his Pooja box, there was no occasion 
for ecstasies if Sri Madhva did not regard the 
images of Rama and Sita as objects of pre-eminent 
spiritual value, 

The span of mortal life that Sri Madhva had 
assigned to his earthly career was run out. The 
work was done, the aim was achieved, and the goal 
attained. The seeds of a renovated religion had been 
planted in fertile soil, among good men and true, and 
they were bound to sprout and shoot, blossom and 
fructify, in proper time. He had spoken and written 
in words winged with fire. He had dispelled doubt 
and delusion in honest minds, and left the fruit of 
his labours in the hands of God. He had striven 
hard with no mean success to stir up reason and 
reflection among the learned of the day, and ex- 
pected that posterity would reap a harvest of plentiful 
bliss, out of his work, It seemed as if Sri Madhva 
was only waiting for Nara Hari Theertha and the 
images, before he could lay down his task, When 
this purpose was fulfilled, nothing remained but to pass 
the mantle to the shoulders of Padmanabha Theertha 
and dedicate his own life and work unto Providence* 

To a vast gathering of pupils he was warmly 
expounding his favourite Upanishad, Aitareya, when 
the curtain fell, with a shower of flowers from the 
heirarchy of Gods. Sri Madhva disappeared body 
and soul from vision, and repaired unseen to Badari 
for good. 








The East is proverbially immobile. It is averse 
to change. It is slow to receive new ideas. Its 
conservatism is well known. Those who fully realize 
the phenomenal disinclination of India to change, 
may pause lor a moment to think what a great 
person Sri Madhva must have been to have attacked 
the strong-holds of custom with such a large 
measure of success. 

Man everywhere clings to his faith with 
great tenacity, and the oriental man in par- 
ticular sticks like a veritable leech to whatever 
bears the impress of custom and age on its brow. 
The history of most nations bears witness to 
the bloodshed and bonfires of martyrdom at the 
altar of some formula of religious faith. It therefore 
means no ordinary strength and power when a 
Reformer rises among men and succeeds in dislodging 
a single strong conviction or eradicating a single 
well-rooted practice. The orthodox call these great 
ones Incarnations of some superior deity. In the west, 
they would simply be called Heroes. We need not 
quarrel over mere difference of nomenclature. It does 


not admit of doubt that these leaders of men are 
superior personalities, great by their moral, 
intellectual, and spiritual height. They possess some 
super-subtle sense or faculty, be it intuition or 
inspiration, which enables them to see through the 
veils of nature and hold a mirror to the inner workings 
of hearts and souls. 

Ancient books say that in the golden age (Satya 
Yuga) men were different to what they are, and that 
the Satwic element of 'illumination' composed and 
permeated their bodies. We are told that, drifting 
through millions of years, the Universe has been 
deteriorating into grosser and grosser conditions, 
until, in the iron age in which our lots are cast, 
dense ignorance and discord, is the prevailing 

When the three attributes of matter, the gunas 
of Prakriti, begin to vibrate, creation is started. Satwa 
is a comprehensive term for light, equilibrium, 
and harmony, in the most comprehensive sense- 
Rajas is activity, passion, and vibration. Tamas is 
destruction, density, darkness, inertia. When these 
gunas lose their balance of equipoise, Pralaya or 
Universal quiescence is at an end, and the wheel 
of the cosmos begins to roll, propelled, ol course, 
by the will of the Supreme Being. At the infancy 
of the world, density and darkness, (the Tamo guna) 
is naturally so feeble as to be negligible. Hence it 
follows that an ordinary man of the golden age, 
will, if born with the same spiritual and mental 
vigour, be a genius, an avatar, in the silver, copper, 
or iron ages. There is thus nothing intrinsically 
outrageous to common-sense in the philosophy of 
Avatars, Sri Krishna declares that these high in- 


carnations are brought about by Him, whenever 
virtue is badly out of joint. 

The question, however is, was Sri Madhva 
an Avatar? What are his claims to be considered 
such? Was he one of those rare Beings who hold 
up the torch of knowledge to light up the heaven- 
ward path of straggling humanity^ If so, what are 
the proofs ? The sequel must answer. 

Sri Madhva was a Teacher of enormous power. 
He revolutionized religious worship by making it a 
surrender of the heart and the soul, instead of being 
a mere realization of the head. He made devotion 
a thrill, a paradise, on earth. He presented God 
and man in a new relation altogether, by empha- 
sizing that aspect of the Divinity which blesses 
and redeems the Bhakta, out of grace. Thousands of 
people followed Sri Madhva, idolized him and deified 
him. He accomplished in South India what the pro- 
phet of Nadia did two centuries later in Bengal. Sri 
Madhva and Lord Gouranga were both teachers of 
Dwaita out-and-out, the points of resemblance being 
in fact so numerous even as regards details, that 
Swami Vivekananda is of opinion that the Chaitanya 
School is no other than the Madhva system in 
essence. He says speaking of Sri Madhva " There 
has been the great Southern preacher, Madhva Muni, 
and following him, our great Chaitanya of Bengal 
taking up the philosophy of the Mddhvas and preaching it in 
Bengal." In these circumstances, those that believe 
in the divinity of Gouranga, and such may be counted 
a legion, would hardly dispute Sri Madhva's position 
as a great Avatar. 

A divine light, a supernatural halo, covered Sri 
Madhva's person. Pandit Narayana goes into 


raptures in describing this particular feature of the 
Master. Sri ]V[adhva looked more like a being of 
light than of flesh. The shiny softness of skin was 
a striking characteristic. The spritual glow found 
expression in a physical radiance, and this captivat- 
ed the on-looker. He was a magnificent figure, 
says his biographer, indescribably magnificent, in 
shape, figure, cast, and mould. He truly resembled 
the eminent sons of Satya Yuga, whose spiritual- 
ity enabled them to see God face to face and com- 
mune with Him almost in the daily intercourse of 
life. Sri Madhva so lived and behaved that every 
word he uttered and every act he did, seemed uttered 
or done in the personal presence of God. Judging 
from his conduct, deportment, and demeanour, 
throughout, the conclusion is irresistible that God 
stood incessantly before his eyes as his inseparable 
guide, philosopher, and friend. The result was that 
he spoke, and taught, with tremendous earnestness. 
He spoke and wrote with a ring of certainty and 
seriousness not always found in the utterances of 
other Solomons and prophets of the world. 

The orthodox call him an " Yekanta Bhakta, " 
meaning thereby that he was a devotee of the very 
highest calibre, because he loved the Lord with all 
his heart, with all his might, and with all his soul, 
and never wavered in the least. This is his great- 
est claim for esteem. He himself lays it down 
as a fundamental doctrine of his system, that no 
person is great unless he loves God and is beloved 
by God, that devotion is the only true measure of 
greatness, and that a person is entitled to public 
esteem and regard only in direct proportion to the 
love he feels for God, and no farther or otherwise. 


Sri Madhva answered the test laid down by himself 
to an extent utterly beyond the reach of any Jeevatma 
even in the hierarchy of angels (Gods). His title 
to glory was his Bhakti, unalloyed and undiluted 
by the least trace of worldliness, or by the 
faintest tinge of considerations related to hope 
and fear. He loved God for His own sake, and there 
was nothing more to be said of it. 

No doubt, Sri Madhva performed miracles as 
other prophets did, before his day. It is said that 
he ate super human dinners and lifted impossible 
weights. He brushed aside known laws of nature 
in a manner that no other mortal could have done. 
He walked through unfordable depths of the Ganges 
as if on Terra Firrna, and saved his followers from 
perilous situations, by nothing short of miraculous 
deeds. It is needless to recapitulate all that he did. 
When he sang, the music produced a commotion even 
in the vegetable kingdom. When he recited a Vedic 
hymn, seeds held in the hollow of his palms, shot 
forth sprouts and branches. All this, he did in order 
to impress the common folk. 

Other Prophets did similar things in their days. 
Sri Sankara, it is said, made his disciple Padma- 
pada walk on the surface of the Ganges as if it 
were a solid sheet of firm ground. He had, we are 
told, a personal interview with Vyasa, sustained a hot 
disputation with him over a vexed question of Brahma 
Sootras, and Padmapada pacified the disputants by a 
personal appeal. When Sri Sankara once dropped 
into Mandana Misra's house and argued with him, 
the fading garland of Mandana declared his defeat. 
When Mandana's wife Bharati took up the gaunt- 
let and put awkward questions to Sri Sankara 


in the sciences of Cupid, they say, that the 
latter made what is known as Parakaya Pravesa 
by entering the corpse of the Prince Amaruka, and 
in order to learn the subtleties of sexual science, 
reigned as a monarch for a time in the assumed body, 
leaving his own legitimate case inanimate under a tree. 
The record adds that thus dressed in brief kingship, 
he enjoyed the queens and mastered the mysteries 
of love, with the result that Bharati was ultimately 
vanquished in debate. 

Mr. Sooryanarayan Rao. B. A., author of Vijay- 
nagar History, says that one Sureswaracharya, the 
immediate successor of Sri Sankara, ruled for eight- 
hundred years on the Sringeri throne. He brushes 
as untenable, the usual criticism of common sense, 
and gravely supports this prolonged rule. 

The life of Sri Ramanuja is similary full of 
miraculous incidents. At every step, Sri Ramanuja 
is represented as holding long conversations with the 
Gods of Srirangam and Conjeevaram. We are told 
that God Ranganath and God Varadaraja gave him 
frequent interviews, answered his questions, solved 
his difficulties, gave him advice, and submitted even to 
his capricious whims and moods. It is recorded, that 
when this Teacher attended the funeral of 
Yamunacharya, he found three fingers ol the 
corpse closed within the palm, and that Sri 
Ramanuja caused them to open by pledging his w T ord 
to fulfil three of Yamunacharya's cherished wishes. 
On a certain occasion, twelve thousand Samanas came 
down to hold a disputation with this Teacher. It 
was evident that no human voice could possibly cope 
with the situation. The Teacher, it is said, went 
behind a screen, assumed the form of Sesha (serpent) 


and answered the queries of the twelve thousand 
questioners by simultaneous replies delivered in such 
a manner as to make each reply audible only to the 
particular querist whom it concerned. Sree Vaishnavas 
believe implicitly in these miracles, Sri Ramanuja 
visited the court of Delhi and obtained the image of 
Rama Priya from the palace of the Mahommadan 
Princess, The royal owner at first refused to part 
with her favourite image. But Sri Ramanuja 
earnestly invited the Lord, whereupon the image 
began to walk towards him with the ringing anklets of 
bells dancing to his tune. 

From Jesus Christ, Budha, and Mahomud, down 
to the humblest Messiah of every land, instances may 
be cited by hundreds, to prove a sort of universal 
belief in miracles. Sceptics and agnostics attribute 
such phenomena to warped vision in some cases, to 
imperfect observation or to wilful exaggeration in 
others. They say, in some extreme cases, that some 
partisan panegyrist concocted them. I cannot say 
that the sceptics and agnostics are wholly wrong. 
It is however too great a strain, to conclude, in all 
conscience, that the whole record of what seem to 
be supernatural incidents, is simple myth and 
hallucination, in the case of all the great men of every 
land and clime. 

Miracles alone never establish a faith. Max Mailer 
observes " Miracles have often been called helps 
to faith, but they have so often proved stumbling 
blocks to faith ; nothing has produced so much dis- 
tress of mind, so much intellectual dishonesty, so much 
scepticism, so much unbelief, as the miraculous ele* 
ment in the -Christian religion," 


Thik observation is true of almost every i living 
religion in the world. To quote the same scholar 
again, " It is due to the psychological necessities of 
human nature that so many of the true signs and 
Wonders performed by the founders of religion, have 
so often been exaggerated, and, in spite of the strong- 
est protests of the founders themselves, degraded into 
mere jugglery." Neither in the west, nor in the east, 
are people carried away by mere miracles. In India, 
" miracles are regarded as mere unessential accidents 
of religious history, which, true or untrue, are no 
arguments to prove or disprove the truth of any 
religious doctrines. We credit even heretics with 
extraordinary powers of magic. We allow it possible 
for a mere juggler to pass through fire and walk on 
water, and do likewise many a feat in apparent defiance 
of nature's laws, but we do not dream of accepting his 
views on religion. Whether Sri Madhva performed 
miracles or not, his title to greatness does not lie in 
them, but in his virtues, his austerities, his learning, 
his ethical and spiritual leadership. 

A modern European critic, by no means a pane- 
gyrist or partisan, sums up his opinion about Sri 
Madhva in the following words. 

/'His zeal, his rigid self-renunciation, combined 
with serene gentleness and benignity, his wisdom 
and eloquence, his personal dignity and beauty, gave 
strange force to the doctrines he taught, and won 
men's hearts. Wherever he went, crowds flocked to 
his teaching, and thousands of all ranks enrolled 
themselves among his adherents. In the fulness of 
his fame, he went to Badari. His was a mind, not 
only deeply reflective, but of great practical sagacity 
and insight, capable of profound and comprehensive 


views of life, able to descern the causes of the evils 
under which society laboured, and to devise and 
apply ttie proper remedies. The impression left on the 
mind by his whole career is that of a man who com- 
bines with intellectual originality, the not less es- 
sential elements ot greatness, such as magnanimity 
and moral elevation of nature, superiority to vulgar 
passions, an absorption of mind with larger ob- 
jects, such as rendered him absolutely insensible 
to personal ambition, also self-reliance and strength 
of will, the confidence that comes from conscious- 
ness of power and resource; the quiet, patient, 
unflinching resolution which wavered not from 
its purpose in the face of dangers and diffi- 
culties that baffle or wear out men of meaner mould 
Along with these, he possessed other qualities 
not always combined with them, such as sweetness f 
gentleness, quickness, and width of sympathy. His 
character embraced that rare combination of quali- 
ties, which lends to certain exceptional personal- 
ities, a strange power over all who came within 
the range of their influence, calls for the love and 
devotion of human hearts, welds under a common 
impulse, the diversified activities of multitudes, and 
constitutes its possessors, the chosen leaders , of 
mankind. An important place is undoubtedly due 
to the morality which was not only* embodied in 
the life of Madhva, but constitutes a great part, if 
not the main subject of, his teachings." 



Some characteristic traits. 

It has been observed that "Sri Madhva origi- 
nated little but reformed much". This may be true 
enough. Max Muller says, " Religion, like language, 
is everywhere an historical growth, and to invent 
a completely new religion would be as hope- 
less a task as to invent a completely new langu- 
age". But Sri Madhva gave point to so many 
articles of faith, as to individualize his theology into 
a separate system, into a distinct religion, worthy 
of the name. The soil and the atmosphere of the 
country was mature for his message. He availed 
himself of the general receptivity, and formulated 
an acceptable interpretation of God and the Uni- 
verse. To this, he added a code of rules to regu- 
late human conduct in relation to God. Thus, 
under the touch of his fingers f Brahminism became 
crystallized into a new gem, composed of tenets, 
beliefs, practices, and institutions, welded into a 
homogeneous whole, and reflecting like a new- 
born crystal, an effulgence peculiarly its own. In 
this sense, and to this extent, it was a new 

The test of a living faith is the degree of influ- 
ence it exerts on the practical life of its votaries. 
Its vitality and its vigour do not consist in metaphy- 
sical quibbles or logical gymnastics. Max Muller 
says, " Practical religion is life, is a new life, a life 
in the sight of God and, springs from what may be 
truly called a new birth. " An intense belief in the 


future life is a characteristic feature of Hinduism 
in general. With Madhvas, the invisible is separ- 
ated from the visible by a very thin* veil indeed. 
It is impossible to light upon another community 
in the world, whose thoughts, words, and acts, are 
more intimately influenced by, and bound up with, 
beliefs in a future state. With a Madhva, life consists 
of one incessant round of duties to God and Devas 
and little besides. Sri Madhva wrote out a code of 
rules (in his work known as Sadachara Smriti) in 
which he fills all the 24 hours of every day and all the 
360 days of every year with some observance or other, 
with some act or omission, intended to advance 

No ideal, however lofty, fails to suffer by lapse 
of time. In course of time, it passes through impure 
minds, and is handled roughly by hostile forces and 
conflicting currents of thought. A crust of superstition 
grows over it and hides the light Sri Madhva's ideals 
are no exception to the melancholy rule. The lapse of 
700 years since he lived and taught, has degraded 
his ideals in many respects. But even when full 
allowance is made, it is a matter for congratulation 
that the living fire of Sri Madhva's burning words 
is not yet dead, and that examples of self-abnegation 
at the alter of faith are probably more numerous in 
the Madhva community than anywhere else. 

The Ekadasi-fast is an instance in point. Once a 
fortnight, numerous men, and most women, in this 
sect, fast for a whole day, not taking even a single 
morsel of food, or a drop of water, to allay hunger or 
thirst. Occasionally two such days of fasting occur 
together, under some rules of planetary calculation 

$%0 PART ttw~~¥E ACtttN<& Of Sfcl MAfrttVA [cHAP. 

Nothing daunted, they observe the fast rigidly for 
forty eight hours and more. A long list of other 
fasting days is similarly in force. It is needless to 
go into details. It is not a list more honoured in the 
breach than in the observance. Such is the intensity 
of belief 

In days of yore, the school of Kumarila Bhatta 
gave a powerful impetus to animal sacrifices. Sri 
Sankara gave it a check, but tolerated it. He advo- 
cated the view that animal sacrifices were enjoined 
by the Shastras and were highly meritorious, though 
(Gyana) knowledge alone could save the soul. 
Instances were not uncommon, in which animal 
slaughter was carried on with cruelty in sacrificial 
sheds, Sri Madhva put a stop to this with his 
powerful voice and pen. He did not do away with 
the system of sacrifices altogether, but he enjoined 
a substitute for the living victim, to be made of 
meal-flour. The spectacle of a Brahmin or Brahmins 
killing sheep was, in his opinion, growing scandalous. 
He proved it to be against Shastraic law in the Kali 
age, and forbade the practice altogether, so as to 
make the Brahmin's life a consistent vegetarianism 

Brahminism had become an uncertain code of 
doctrines, regulations, and practices. Special and 
local customs, Kulacharas and Desacharas of 
various kinds, had introduced innovations and 
changes, so much so, that the Brahmin of the North 
was hardly identifiable with that of the South, 
or the West. The ecclesiastical government of the 
Jagat Guru was not always efficient enough to check 
deviations and enlorce uniformity. The territorial 


jurisdiction was vast, and the population to be governed 
immense. Hence the special and loc^l divergences 
had come to be innumerable, minute, and subtle. The 
organisation of the Sringeri Abbot was too feeble 
to take cognizance of delinquencies then and there. 
Those that owned allegiance to a central ecclesias- 
tical authority lived scattered from one end of the 
land to the other, under such divergencies of 
political and social conditons, that nothing short 
of a thoroughly organized ecclesiastical bureaucracy 
could have prevented divisions and subdivisions 
of sectarian beliefs. Thus it had come to pass 
that even the disgraceful excesses of men and 
women addicted to Bachanalian orgies, in the name 
of Shakti worship, were growing into a popular cult. 
These votaries professed to worship the feminine 
principle. To carry on their religious service, they 
selected a naked woman, somebody on hire, and 
carried out a programme consisting of disgusting 
excesses with wine and women. 

The advent of Sri Ramanujacharya introduced 
order into the prevailing chaos. The secession cut 
off a large slice of the Brahmin community. The 
men thus separated, came under a closer supervision 
and discipline. They were animated by the spirit 
of a new fraternity, and by a sense of compactness, 
unfelt hithertofore. Sri Madhva brought about 
a further secession. He revised the laws of 
Brahminsim so as to obsolctise every doctrine 
or practice obnoxious to the moral sense. The 
abolition of animal slaughter and the suppression of 
Shakti worship in the revolting fashion it prevailed 
in, are two of the many wholesome reforms for which 
$ri Madhva deserved thanks and gratitude. Tfes 


result could not be otherwise than a great ethical 
gain to Southern India at least. 

A Madhva house without a reserved room for 
Pooja, is as rare as a European house without a 
drawing room. In adjusting the available accommoda- 
tion for his needs, the Madhva Brahmin bestows 
attention first and foremost on his Pooja box and the 
Saligrams and images he has to worship day after day. 
He sets apart a room as Sanctum sanctorum. The lady of 
the house is the guardian of the room and its contents, 
in a special sense. She keeps it scrupulously clean 
and washed, and maintains, if means permits, a 
perpetual lamp on the dais where the box of Saligrams 
and images remains installed. She rigidly observes 
and enforces every rule to secure the premises from 
contamination and impurity of touch. If one thing 
more than another characterises the members of this 
sect, it is their elaborate rules and practices to be 
immune from contamination of touch. No Pooja, or 
any holy act, or cooking, can be performed by a man 
or woman except after a bath. Clothes washed and 
dried so as not to have come in contact with anything 
impure, should alone be worn on such occasions. 
Minute are the rules relating to personal fpurity, 
dealing elaborately with the dress to be worn, 
the jars to be touched or avoided, the spots that 
may be trodden on or may not be, and so on. 
The women are much more rigid than the men in 
this matter. The touch of a baby is enough to cause 
pollution and entail a fresh bath. It may be that 
these observances, not always insisted on from 
rational stand-points of personal cleanliness and 
sanitation, go sometimes to ridiculous lengths. But, 
on the whole, the system is highly beneficial First 


of all, it ensures to the God's room an absolute 
immunity from promiscuous entry.- It creates 
for the sacred premises, the reverence and awe so 
necessary to make up the true spirit of devotion. 
Secondly, it preserves food from impure touch of 
every kind. Even from hygienic standpoints, no- 
thing is more important than to secure dishes from 
promiscuous touch, especially among a people who 
do not use spoons and forks for eating, but use their 
fingers freely in handling the food. 

It is thus a noteworthy feature of a Madhva 
household that the chapel and the kitchen are both in 
a state of ideal cleanliness, that the utensils employed 
in both arc, by constant attention and incessant 
washing and scouring, kept brighter than the 
soldier's button. 

The notions of personal purity are traceable to 
very rational and sensible ideas of physical laws* 

Manu says : — 

'The body is purified by water, the mind by 
truth, the soul by knowledge and austerity, and 
reason by wisdom/' Water is thus classed as a 
great physical purifier, and so it is, undoubtely. 

Science upholds the view that every living 

being is continually giving off particles of its 

body. The particles are subtle and invisible. 

Every living body is pouring out a rain of 



physical particles, and is receiving, in return, 
an impact • of the same, given out by other 
living bodies. If this be true, it is of the utmost 
importance that the enveloping sheath of particles 
in vibration which affect the man and his neighbours 
should be rendered pure as far as possible. 
From the outermost covering of the human body 
known in the Shastras as the annamaya kosha 
(food-formed sheath) these particles are projected. 
From an inner sheath next below this one, called 
Prdnamaya Kosha, the sheath of vital energies, 
waves of energy are continually projected into 
space. These two sets of projectiles have to be 
rigidly taken care of, so that they may not turn 
out to be poisoned arrows. 

Baba Premanand Bharati goes further and 
states that the mind constantly irradiates spoke- 
like rays which surround a man for the width 
of about a cubit and constitute what is known 
as his " aura ". It is said that the rays (of 
this aura) form a perfect photograph of mental 
images, a faithful record of the man's thoughts 
and character. This is supposed to be the 
invisible album of pictures (Chitra Gupta) that 
sages can decipher and interpret. The necessity 
and importance of preserving the body, Pranas, and 
the mind, pure, is thus becoming established by 
the slow discoveries of science. We thus get a 
glimpse of why our ancient injunctions were so 
elaborate and so particular about the objects to be 
touched and avoided, and about the distances to 
be kept between holy and unclean persons. No 
bath, however elaborate, was deemed enough, by 
itself, to ensure purity. It was laid down that it should 


invariably be supplemented by proper mantras and 
stotras. While the baths made the skin pure, the 
Shastras enjoined, peremptorily, that sacred recitals 
should be made during and after the bath, to steady 
and purify the mind. By proper vibrations, supposed 
to be of a magnetic character, they were to purify 
the Pranas, (vital energies) too. Such is the outline 
of the theory. 

While Smarthas and Aiyangars hold numerous 
richly endowed temples under their management, 
the Madhwas are decidedly unlucky and poor in 
that respect. But they have a few good ones in 
South Canara and elsewhere. As an invaluable comp- 
ensation, they have the Sri Krishna Shrine at Udupi, 
and this is a gem whose value cannot be over- 
estimated. Every Hindu knows ad nauseum all about 
temples and Poojaries. It is a doleful tale, without a 
single redeeming feature about it, of misappropriated 
funds, violated trusts, irreverent Poojaries, and shame- 
less dancing girls. But Sri Madhva fashioned the 
Udupi temple on a new plan altogether. He made 
it the model of its kind. Eight ascetics act therein 
as Poojaries by well - regulated rotation. They 
are powerless to delegate their duties to hired 
underlings. Sri Madhva set the example and led 
the way. His precepts and examples left noth- 
ing to be desired. The formulae of worship in 
every temple managed by Madhvas, and in every 
household of theirs, are but leaves taken from the 
book of the Udupi temple. The unkempt Poojari 
dressed in a silk cloth which has never known water 
at all, is a rare phenomenon in Madhva temples. Tht 
dancing girl with her meretrecious gestures and 
gaudy tinsel, is an unknown factor among them. 


Sri Madhva attached the greatest importance 
to an intelligent study of the Shastras. He cared 
not for Vedic recital as a mere feat of memory. 
He gave no encouragement to the time-honoured 
practice of committing volumes of Vedas to memory 
without the least idea of their meaning. Brahmins 
of other sects hurl this as a reproach that very 
few Madhvas are great Vedic reciters. While the 
percentage of Vedic reciters is undoubtedly small in 
this sect, the proportion of earnest and ardent 
students of sacred works is very much larger than in 
other sects. Most Madhvas begin from Mani- 
Manjari, and Madhva-Vijaya, and wade patiently 
and enthusiastically through the whole range of 
Dwaita literature. They have, on the whole, a more 
intimate acquaintance with the main articles of their 
native faith than the average Hindu of other systems. 
This observation requires to be greatly qualified, 
having regard to the radical changes brought on by 
English education in modern times. The statement 
is nevertheless true in the main, even after making 
due allowance for the new leaven causing a general 

It has been remarked that Madhvas pay more 
attention to Itihasas and Puranas than to the 
Vedas. Sri Madhva has expressly enjoined on 
his followers to fill up the Vedic studies with Itihasas 
and Puranas. He regarded the Vedanta course 
incomplete without the latter. As the Ramanuja 
people attach a special value and merit to Srimad 
Valmiki Ramayana, so Madhvas treat Mahabharata 
and Bhaghavata with peculiar esteem. Sri Madhva 
has left a metrical synopsis of the great epic (Maha- 
bharata), laying stress on the morale and import 
of all the obscure passages of the original. His 


view is that the language of -Mahabharata is 
capable of ten different interpretations, many of 
which are of great esoteric value. The reader will 
find that this remarkable work is indeed a marvel 
in the world of books. Mahabharata is not a 
History or a story-book in the ordinary sense. 
It is an epitome of "Universe-History." I mean, that 
it gives an account of the universe such as no other 
book attempts to give. It is the history of the 
evolution of the universe, dealing with the physical, 
moral, astral, and spiritual planes. It deals with 
eons upon eons of time. It deals with enormous 
worlds in their forward and backward journey, 
tracing the history of nature from the womb of God 
through the egg of Brahma, and the creation of 
elementals, onward and ever onward, through 
enormous cycles of Krita, Treta, Dwapar, and Kali 
ages, up to the great dissolution (Mahapralaya). 
Dealing with events in this manner, this great book 
speaks of events and incidents that look like legends 
for poor mortals of the iron age. Sri Madhva pays 
special homage to this book as standing on a footing 
of equality with, if not superiority to, the Vedas. He 
declares himself implicitly following its footsteps, 
As iurnishing a key to the Vedic system, it is a 
wonderful book, par Excellence. To men and women, 
and especially to those who have not the time and the 
energy to crack the hard nuts of the technical Shastras, 
Mahabharata and its epitome, are soul-lifting volumes. 
Dr. F. A. Hassler of America says of Mahabharata, 
" In all my experience in life, 1 have not found a 
work that has interested me as much as that noble 
production of the wise, and I do not hesitate to say, 
inspired, men of ancient India. In fact, I have, 
studied it more than any other work for a long time 

138 PARf 11.— Teachings or ski MADrivA t CH AH. 

past, and have made at least 1000 notes which I have 
arranged in Alphabetical order, for the purposes of 
study. The Mahabharata has opened to me, as it 
were, a new world, and I have been surprised 
beyond measure at the wisdom, truth, knowledge, 
and love of the right, which I have found displayed 
in its pages. Not only so, but 1 have found many of 
the truths which my own heart has taught me in 
regard to the Supreme Being and His creations, 
set forth in beautiful, clear, language." 

When Latin was displaced by vernacular pray- 
ers and sermons, Europe was convulsed by the 
change. The influence of the mother-tongue in 
the conduct of religious service was simply in- 
calculable. It marked an epoch in European 
history, fraught with momentous issues. The 
Tamil Prabandhams of the Ramanuja school, marked 
likewise, a reformation on very wholesome lines. 
It pulled away the mystic veil from the bright face 
of knowledge. It enabled women and illiterate people 
to drink of what was, till then, a forbidden spring. 
Canarese works and songs have similarly done an 
immense service to Madhvas. Illustrious is the roll 
ol devotees, who have, from time to time, poured 
out their heart's best inspirations, in devotional 
songs of a soul-stirring character. The noble work 
of Sri Madhva has been zealously perpetuated by this 
illustrious band, from Vyasaraya, Vada Raja, Purandara 
Doss, and a host ol Bhaktas, whose utterances are 
gems of the purest ray serene in the sacred 
literature of this sect. Anybody that has visited 
Tirupati during the Brahmotsavam festival, knows the 
groups of maddened Madhva devotees singing away 
and dancing away, all day long, and all night long, * 

il] some characteristic traits. 239 

delirious with joy, and intoxicated by the love of 
God. Sri Madhva set the example of Sankeertan 
dance to the tune of various metres by his 
well-known " Dwadasa Stotram." His successors 
continued it in Sanskrit as well as Canarese poetry. 
Two centuries later, Lord Gouranga of Navadweep, 
conquered Bengal by Sankeertan parties of 'Haribole/ 
In Tirupati and Jagannath, the living fire of this 
devotion is prominently observable and enjoyable. 
The institution derived its origin from Sri Madhva's 
time and lives with great vitality and vigour among 
the sect, though other religious founders have also 
adopted the practice, in recent times. When the 
heart thus surrenders itself in a genuine Sankeertan 
song and dance, the soul feels lifted up to great 
elevations of purity. 

Before concluding this short review of some of 
the good points observable in this small sect, a 
reference to the godly regard that the members of 
this sect cherish for their spiritual teachers (Guroo) 
should not be forgotten. I admit that this is pecu- 
liarly a Hindu trait. But under the inspiration of 
Sri Madhva, this trait has come to be strongly 

" Similar to the supreme devotion to God, should 
be the devotion to the teacher," is the sacred injunction, 
marked, of course, by a due sense of proportion, as the 
gloss takes care to add. No Madhva is pure un- 
less and until he receives spiritual initiation at the 
Jiands of a teacher. He is not qualified for any 
holy acts, until he has studied at least the 
Sootra Bhashya of Sri Madhva, in the presence of 


a Guru and with the technical formalities. From 
this moment of initiation, this Guru, dead or alive, 
is a saint for the pupil. The Guru may be after 
all an ignorant man, poorly read, and addicted to 
worldly ties, but the pupil dares not offend him or 
cross his wishes, on pain of hell. The command of 
Manu is literally laid to heart and very strictly 
adhered to in practice. 

"Of the Progenitor, and the giver of the knowledge 
of Brahman, the latter is the more venerable father ; 
for the birth of the Brahman in the Brahmin is 
verily eternal both here and after death. " 

Hostile critics are fond of observing that the 
Madhva is a narrow-minded creature, who is nothing 
if not bigoted. Sri Madhva condemned the system 
of Sri Sankara with all the vehemence of which he 
was capable, as he considered Advaita to be totally 
destructive and subversive of the very spirit and 
essence of Theism. He considered that Sri Sankara 
did the world enormous mischief by promulgating his 
Monistic system. To this day, a spirit of intolerance 
does mark the orthodox followers of Sri Madhva. 
They will tolerate anything, but not Monism, and the 
reasons are obvious. Some people fancy that because 
a Sringcri abbot robbed Sri Madhva of his library, the 
latter vented his wrath by denunciation. Others say 
that it is the bitter persecution of Madhvas in the time 
of the early " renegades", that left a deep wound which 
has never healed since. So far as the founder 
is concerned, the critics are wholly wrong in attri- 
buting any rancour or malice to him. He does not 
seem to have suffered any personal wrongs of 
such an aggravated nature as to lose temper and 
balance, and hurl anathemas in fury. Nov did he 


in fact indulge in fulminations as is often supposed. 
It was due to the exigencies of his strong convic- 
tions that he had to condemn Monism, and this 
alone, he did, with unrelenting logic. John Stuart 
Mill has condemned Hamilton in language far more 

Baba P. Bharati (speaking of Vivarta Vada, 
illusive appearance-theory) says " This new Vedantic 
thought has done and is doing more harm to the world 
than any other religious theory. It is a worse delusion 
than the delusion of Maya." 

It is far from my intention to make out 
that Madhvas are paragons of perfection. They 
share, with Brahmins in general, the foibles and 
failings characteristic of the class, with a sprinkling of 
additional weaknesses perhaps, due to their spirit 
of exclusiveness. But my object in the foregoing 
remarks of this chapter is to indicate what this 
small community owes to its great founder. 
It reflects undying credit on Sri Madhva that he 
inculcated principles of virtue and righteousness, 
among his adherents, together with a spirit of 
genuine piety and whole-hearted devotion. His 
code is so framed as to lay stress on the failings and 
weaknesses of man and to educate him towards pro- 
gress and the goal. It illustrates the truth of vari- 
ous positions individually accentuated by recent 
western thinkers, of Kant for example, who says 
that religion is the sanction for duty, of the Ger- 
man philosopher who traced religion to a sense 
of absolute dependence and passiveness, and of 
Mathew Arnold, who defined Religion as moral- 
ly touched by emotion, ethics heightened, enkind- 
led, and lit up by feelings. Even the District 


Manual of South Canara, written by Mr. J. Sturrock 
L C S. sums up a short review of Sri Madhva's 
teachings by observing that this sect is distinguished 
by a high code of morality. This, of course, is no 
partisan testimony. However little we may deserve 
the encomium at present, there can be no doubt that 
a true believer in Sri Madhva cannot help leading a 
life of simple living, high thinking, and noble doing. 


a bird's-eye-view from a layman's stand-point. 

Just as intellectual giants arose and revolu- 
tionized thought in Europe in the middle ages and in 
the reign of Elizabeth, so, some remarkable personages 
appeared in medieval India and revolutionized 
religious thought, by successive waves of doctrinal 
and ritualistic reforms. 

Sri Raman uja, Sri Madhva, and Sri Chaitanya, 
are three names held dear by vast communities of 
people, and worshipped by thousands, if not millions, 
of Hindus wherever Vaishnavaism is known. These 
three restored Vaishnavaism to pristine purity, and 
popularized the faith throughout the length aod 
breadth of this land. 

It may be that Sri Sankara himself was a 
Vaishnavite, so far as his Monistic philosophy 
permitted him to adore a personal god. His date 
is however involved in mystery. It is difficult to 
decide whether he lived 2000 years ago, or was born 
so recently as 788 A. D. Opinions are widely 
devergent on this point. 

In the year 1088 A. D., the great Ramanuja 
was born, of obscure parents, at Sri Perumbudoor in 
Chingleput District. He was a remarkable personage 
in every way. He is deemed an Avatar of Sesha 
by his followers. He inherited no fortune 
t^ invest him with an artificial position. His 
genius asserted itself even while studying un4er 
an Adwa&a teacher, Yadava Prakasa, Though he 

i44 PARf II. — TEACHINGS Ottkl MADHVA (cHAfc. 

married and became a householder according to custom 
and fashion, ,his thoughts were ever bent inward and 
heavenward. Home had little attractions for him- 
He had some quarrels with his wife whose tempara- 
ment was unsuited to his tastes and pursuits. He 
renounced worldly life, and became a self-ordained 
Sanyasin in the very prime of life. 

This Acharaya lived to a ripe old age of 128 years. 
His was a long life of activity and reform. He 
tackled the problems of life and death with masterly 
firmness and vigour, and forced a following. He 
converted the guru of his youth to his faith. By a pole- 
mical disputation that lasted for 18 days, he vanquished 
Yagna Moorthy of Banares, and initiated him as Deva 
Rajamuni. He wrote an elaborate commentary on 
the Brahma Sootras, called Sri Bhashya, in refutation 
of Sri Sankara's work, besides other works, to put 
down the Adwaita doctrine. 

It is not easy to condense within a few paras, 
the life-work of a teacher like Sri Ramanuja. To 
understand him, it would be necessary to study the 
history of the times, and the chief personalities that 
preceded his advent. To understand him, we should 
carry ourselves to the period, and obtain a glimpse of 
contemporary history with reference to the ideas politi- 
cal moral, social, and religious, that ruled the period. 
Such a detailed notice is beyond the scope of this 
chapter, even assuming that full materials are available 
for the purpose. 

The times were apparently ripe for the new move- 
ment inaugurated by Sri Ramanuja. Vaishpavaism was 
not unknown belore his day. A thousand years before 
him, Sadagopa's immortal verses had been composed, 
which, devotees here and there, were cherishing with 

Hl) Waves of VAi&riNAVAisM. 24$ 

fervour. One Nathamuni Swamigal followed in the 
footsteps of Sadagopa, and left the impress of his great 
personality on the times, many years before Sri 
Ramanuja was born. Nathamuni's grandson Yamuna- 
charya was another remarkable teacher. He is the 
sage known as Nammalwar, to whom Sri Ramanuja 
pays obeisance in his works. Maha Poorna, Goshti 
Poorna, Mala Dhara, Vara Ranga, and Saila 
Poorna, are some of the contemporaries of Sri 
Ramanuja, to whom he was indebted for valuable in- 
struction in the Sanskrit and Tamil literature of the 
Vaishnava school. It may thus be presumed that Sri 
Ramanuja did not spring a novel system of philosophy 
and religion upon the public. It may be that the 
teachings of Sri Sankara were dominant, but the sway 
had not been undisputed. In fact, the Sri Bhashya 
of this teacher is said to be based on a very ancient 
commentary called Bodhayana Vritti, a copy ot which 
was glanced through by him at Srinagar in Cashmere. 

Within 200 years after Sri Ramanuja, came Sri 
Madhva, pleading for Vaishnavaism with eloquence 
and fervour. If Sri Ramanuja moved chiefly in the 
east coast districts of Southern India, Sri Madhva 
took possession of the west coast, and made bis 
memorable conquests there. Sri Madhva attacked 
Monism, the school of Sri Sankara, in the strong- 
holds of Malabar and Canara, and spread his views 
from Himalayas to Cape Comorin by frequent tours. 
He lived to a ripe age of 80, and his life-work may he 
evident from the preceding chapters of this book. 

About 200 years after Sri Madhva, came Lord 
Gouranga alias Krishna Chaitanya of Bengal. This 
great personage was born in Nadia in the family 
of a Sanskrit Pandit, in the year 1498 A*D. To this 

%4f6 fAfef It~*4*£ACtliraG6 Ot Sfti M&DHVA [CHAfc. 

day, Northern India deifies his name, and holds 
his memory in sacred reverence. Sri Krishna 
Chaitanya was at first a precocious boy who mas- 
tered grammar and logic with intense avidity, set 
himself up as a school-master, and led the life of a 
pedagogue. Soon, he changed his ways. Sri 
Krishna absorbed his thoughts and took possession 
of his soul Sri Chaitanya lived and moved in the 
countries of Bengal, an embodiment of Bhakti and 
Prema, too transcendent for words. The merest 
idea of Sri Krishna, a trifling allusion to Rfldhd, 
a flashing recollection of Brindavan, sent Gouranga 
into a trance. When he sang and danced, thousands 
of people followed his steps, and danced like- 
wise in ecstasy. When he spoke of Hari, tears 
flowed from his eyes in torrents, and every listener 
felt his hair stand on end, suffused by a joy ineff- 
able. What he preached, more by example than 
by precept, was Dualist Vaishnavaism, etherial and 

Thus, one wave after another of Vaishnavaism 
passed over the country, overwhelming, submerging, 
and destroying, the landmarks of antagonistic schools, 
and establishing fresh landmarks in their place. From 
the 10th to the 16th century, medieval India was 
charged by the electric currents of Vaishnavaism, to an 
extent, and in a measure, probably unkown at any 
previous period of Indian History. Three successive 
teachers appeared within intervals of about 200 
years each, and appealed to the hearts of the people 
with a fervour that produced remarkable results. 

It would be a most interesting study to trace the 
evolution of these phases of Vaishnavaism from stage 
to stage, if historical information were available in 


full measure for the purpose. But poor as the available 
materials are, it is possible just to see that the history 
of Vaishnavaism during these 600 years, is the history 
of a vigorous Protestantism set on foot by great heroes, 
and that each phase of this Protestantism is a logical 
growth out of the pre-existing phase. 

The Vaishnava is a pure Vedantin because he 
believes in the supreme authority of the Vedas. Sri 
Madhva insists that every word and every syllable of 
the Vedas denotes and connotes Vishnu, even the sec- 
tions which profess to deal with sacrifices-and rituals. 
By some misapprehension due probably to European 
Sanskritists, who knew Adwaita alone, the term 
Vedanta is often used to denote only the school of 
Sri Sankara. This however is an obvious error. 
Swami Vivekananda observes (P. 452) " Unfortunately, 
there is a mistake committed many times in modern 
India, that the word Vedanta has reference only to 
the Adwaitist system. It is wrong to confine the 
word Vedanta only to one system which has arisen 
out of the Upanishads. The Ramanujist has as much 
right to be called a Vedantist as the Adwaitin." 

The characteristic feature of Vaishnavaism is that 
it is a staunch defender of theism, and attacks the 
strongholds of atheism in all its aspects It is a 
sworn enemy of the Charvaka, the great upholder 
of materialism. It tolerates no compromise with 
Budhism and Jainism, neither of which acknowledges 
the Veda and a personal God. It protests against 
polytheism and pantheism as subversive of true 
theism. Interpreters of Adwaita have often taken 
considerable trouble to prove that that system 
does not differ in essence from Arhat or Budhist 
systems. White Vaishnavas hurl this as 3 reproach 


Adwaitlns have of late come to regard it as 
a compliment. T. Subba Rao, a great expound- 
er of Adwaita and Esoteric Budhism, says, that 
the whole difference between Budhistic and Vedan- 
tic philosophies was, that the former was a kind 
of rationalistic Vedantism, while the latter might 
be regarded as Transcendental Budhism/' He ob- 
serves further : " There is only one permanent 
cdidition in the universe, which is the state of 
pertetet unconsciousness. The Arhat cosmogony 
accounts for the evolution of manifested solar sys- 
tems from undifferentiated cosmic matter, and 
Adwaita cosmogony accounts for the evolution of 
Bahi Pragna from the original Chinmatra. The 
Adwaitic cosmogony is the complement of Arhat 
cosmogony. The eternal principle is precisely the 
same in both systems and they agree in denying 
the existence of an extra-cosmic God. " Later 
on, he speaks of " Sankararcharya, as the greatest 
occult and adept of all the ages, the founder of 
Adwaitism, the master whose followers are to this 
day referred to as " Prachanna Boudhas", Budhists 
in disguise, so identical are the two teachings, etc. 

The Vaishnava is aggrieved that a school of thought 
purporting to be based on the Vedas, and known as 
Vedanta, should be, in fact, Budhism in disguise. He 
shrinks from Monism because it reduces God into a 
state of unconsciousness or of void. Sri Madhva 
found it no better than Soonya and Atheism, and 
raised an emphatic protest against it. T. Subba 
Rao says " the something, or rather, the nothing called 
spirit, has by itself no form or forms. Can a ' void ' 
be annihilated? What is pure absolute spirit but 
the void of the ancient Greek philosophers ? Well, 


says Lucretius, there can be no third thing besides 
body and void, for if it be to the smallest extent 
tangible, it is body; if not, it is void." 'These views 
indentifying Adwaita now with Budhism and now 
with the theory of void, gradually lost their hold 
on the people. The natural craving for worship, 
the prayerful self-surrender, asserted itself in the rise 
and growth Vaishnavaism. It may be that <;he 
seccessions arose not only because of her^esyjA 
doctrine but of abominations in practice. iWWkp 
it purely to the latter cause is however is a mis- 

"The one without a second" on which Monism 
is built, is, according to Sri Ramanuja, Sri Madhva, 
and other Dualists, the great Vishnu of the 
scriptures, who is of peerless elevation. Of all the 
gods and demigods in the Pantheon, the Vaish- 
navas say, Vishnu, Narayana, Krishnai, Hari, and 
other synonyms, denote the Supreme Spirit, whether 
He chooses to take a form or remain the abstrct 
unseeable, omnipresent spirit, in which the universe 
lives, moves, and has its being. 

Christian Missionaries often ignore the Brahma- 
nical view of "the one God," and choose to tar all 
Hindus with the same brush by calling them 
Polytheists. Sri Madhva does not admit the right of 
any of the so-called gods to a position of true Divinity. 
Devas are mere flashing intelligences, superior Jeevas 
endowed with light, knowledge, and power more 
than man possesses, but infinitely inferior to God. 
Their abodes are not Heaven in the true sense. A 
Christian writer, Thos. Foulkes, has a fair glimpse 
of the true position when he says : "They (the godsj 
earned their elevation to the Heavens, with its 
3 2 


accompanying immorality, by their austerities and 
rigfotepusness, and their continuance in that exalta- 
tion was subject to the usual contingencies. Their 
immortality too was intermittent, and passed away 
with all the other things of time, at the end of each 
divine period of the world, to be renewed, however, 
with them when the seeds of the new heavens and 
the new earth begins to germinate, at the rising of 
tfefcrneSiv Brahma, in the navel-lotus of Narayana, 
atTyliawn of each succeeding dispensation." 

The pivot on which Vaishnavaism rests, is Bhakti, 
or Prapatti. The grief-stricken soul suffering the 
agonies of Samsara, seeks solace in a religion which 
inculcates a true, hearty, communion with God. 
Pantheism offered a mere caricature of this communi- 
on, and people began to shrink from it. " Why do 
we shrink from Pantheism," asks Richard Armstrong, 
and answers the question, saying, *' not from a dread 
of losing the physical universe in God, but from a 
dread of losing our souls in God, Pantheism only 
becomes deadly to vigorous religion and morality, 
when it makes the man's soul, the man's self, a portion 
of God. Theism claims that the human soul is a free 
cause, a separate island of the individual will, in the 
midst of the great ocean of the Divine will Leave us 
man confronting God, not absorbed in Him, and the 
conditions are preserved for the ethical life of the 
individual and also for the communion of the soul with 
God as another than itself, the very possibility of 
wWch is destroyed if a separate personality is 
wiped out." 

A belief in a personal God, and in Jeevas separate 
frdm and dependent on God, characterises the follow- 
ers of Sri Ramanuja, Sri Madhva, ^nd Sri Chaitanya, 


An extinction of the individual soul is looked upon 
with horror. It is evident that these three great 
teachers struck a deep chord in the hearts of the 
people, which vibrated in sympathetic response. 
Every one of them travelled from Badari to Rames- 
waram, met the leading Pandits of the day, and 
convinced them of their heresies. Each polemical 
victory was an epoch-making event followed by 
a commotion mat was felt far and wide. Sri 
Ramanuja's success in Benares over the greatest 
Adwaitin of the day, Yagnamoorthy by name, sent a 
thrill through the length and breadth of India. Sri 
Madhva's triumphs in Southern India and Benares, 
were productive of still more striking results. An 
illustrious roll of Pandits, among whom were the 
brightest luminaries, of the day, including Vasudeva, 
Budhi Sagara, Vidya Sankara, Sobhana Bhatta, 
Sami Sastry, Trivikrama Pandit, Padma Theertha, 
and Pundareeka Puri, tried their best, and failed 
signally. Several of them courageously came into 
his fold ; their example served as a beacon-light to 
the common iolk who had all along had misgivings 
about Monism, but were unable to take action for 
want of leaders to set the example. 

Sri Krishna Chaitanya gave a crushing defeat to 
the great Pandit, Vasudeva Sarvabhouma of Jaganftath, 
and to Prakasananda Saraswati of 10000 disciples, at 
Banares. His biographer says that before his eloquent 
and forcible explanations, the conceited opponents 
were utterly unable to support Adwaita, notwithstand- 
ing the fact that they were men of matchless erudition. 
These towering Sanyasins always took the 
enemies' citadals by storm, and carried conviction 
to millions of people. The intellectual melees thjit 


We heir of in the age under consideration, were 
ho Uninteresting dry-as-dust disputations, but were 
events fraught with far-reaching results. 

The reaction in favour of the Personal God 
produced quite a revolution in temple-worship. 
Sri Ramanuja re-orgainsed the chief Vishnu temples 
of Southern India on a reformed model. Into 
Conjeevaram and Srirangam, he replaced Vaikhanasa 
by the Pancharatra methods of Pooja. He 
founded the temple of Tiru Narayana Puram, and 
made it a mode] of Vaishnava worship. Vishnu 
Vardhana of Mysore became a convert, and laid 
his services and resources at the disposal of the 
Guru. This enabled Sri Ramanuja to carry out 
his ideas and projects, in a manner and with a 
degree of perfection, he could not well com- 
mand in his native country. It is said that 
this sovereign was so devoted to Sri 
Ramanuja and became so staunch a convert, that 
he destroyed as many as 790 Jain Basties in 
his kingdom, and gave a crushing blow to this 
religion. The result must have been an enormous 
accession of strength to the new movement. That 
the influence of the king and the guru was vast, 
might be judged from an anecdote recorded of the 
image installed in this temple. It is said that the 
image (of Sri Rama Priya) was in worship in the 
palace of the Mahommadan Princess of Delhi. Sri 
Ramanuja went there and begged of the royal lady 
to part with the idol. Naturally enough, there was 
hesitation. But the earnest prayer of the master set 
the image in motion. They say that Sri Rama Priya 
walked with gentle steps in response to the call of 
Sri Ramanuja, and this miracle decided the issue, 
After the idol was brought down to Mysore, the 

til. j WAVES OF VAISH^AVAISfti. 2$$ 

princess and her brother followed, utterly broken- 
hearted at the separation. The prince is said to be 
the Kabir Doss so well known to fame. 

A new epoch opened in the history ot the Vishnu 
temples that came into the possession and management 
of this sect. A fervour, hitherto unknown, galvanized 
society. It was felt that a refreshing change had 
come about, fascinating and* thrilling to a degree. 
The articles of the new creed inculcating the view that 
the sanctified idol was a special Avatar of God ; and 
accentuating the necessity of self-surrender in 
emotional prayer, lent a new charm and spell to 
religious life and infused health and tone into the 
dead bones of fossilized worship. In the hands of 
the reformer, the re-organised temple was an ally 
of enormous power, harmonizing, as it beautifully 
did, with the spirit of the new faith. 

Sri Madhva did not underrate the importance of 
image-worship in sanctified temples. One day, when 
he was sitting in meditation on the sands of the 
sea-shore, an image of Sri Krishna came into his 
possession, almost by a miracle. It had belonged to 
Dwaraka, and had been worshipped by Sri Rukmani. 
He installed it in a small temple at Udipi, and 
founded eight Matams to take charge of Sri 
Krishna's worship. He legislated suitable formulas 
of worship to regulate every detail of the Divine 
Service. He rendered it impossible lor the idol 
to be contaminated by unholy touch. He did not 
forget the least important particular, connected with 
the hours of Puja, the postures of devotion, 
th e hymns and prayers to be recited, the decora- 
tions at every one of the nine. Poojas of every 
day, the offerings of flowers, fruits, and dishes, 

354 PAR T II.—tEACltlNGS Of 4 SRI AfADHVA [ctt^P. 

to be made on each occasion, and the magnificent 
hospitality which was to mark and adorn Sri 
Krishna's service. One who sees the courses, 
absolutely forgets that it is but an idol that 
is being served. Every honour and every homage 
that the mind of man can conceive of, to glorify 
an Emperor of Emperors, if present in flesh and 
blood is paid with tireless patience and obeisance, 
day after day, in total forgetfulness of the fact that 
it is after all an image that stands before them. 
Where can the world show a parallel to Sri Krishna's 
temple at Udupi ? 

Thus the propagation of Vaishnavaism was made 
in various ways, by means of original treatises, contro- 
versial conquests, and reformed temples. The members 
of the new faith were called on to bear on their persons, 
prominently visible symbols of their faith. If they 
believed in Vishnu, why hesitate to bear the insignia, 
and proclaim their beliefs to the world ? The men 
were bold to a fault. Their belief was sturdy. They 
cared two straws for the cynic's sneer and the 
Charvaka's contumely. Vishnu was their goal, their 
all in all. They gave themselves Vishnu s names, they 
daubed themselves with Vishnu's symbols, and branded 
themselves with Vishnu's weapons, in order to keep 
themselves constantly in touch with the memory of 
Vishnu. Even in modern India, these external 
shells of Vaishnavaism are present, though alas ! 
the kernel, the vital spirit, that animated the early 
propagators, seems either dead or is in suspended 

Ancient Bhattas that preceded Sri Sankara, laid 
stress on Karmic sacrifices as the salvation of men. 
They took their stand on the Karma Kanda of the 
Vedas, and pleaded for endless rituals. All religious 


activities centred on Karma as the pivot, all 'energies 
wefe directed towards devising, organising, and 
performing, some sacrificial rite or other, to the 
utter neglect of the Upanishads. Sri Sankara shifted 
the centre of gravity of Brahminicial activity 
to a different point. He pleaded for' Gnana ' or 
knowledge, as the saviour, as the only panacea 
for the ills of humanity. The successive phases 
of Vaishnavaism brought about another shift, by 
laying the greatest emphasis on Bhakti as the most 
effectual instrument of emanciption. It may be that 
the three schools of Vaishnavaism have differences 
amongst themselves. But it is common ground for 
them that self-surrender is the true path, and that 
the Lord's grace is the salvation of humanity. 

Sri Madhva recognizes the importance of 
true Karma, of Gnana, and of Bhakti, and classifies 
all devotees as Karma Yogins, Gnana Yogins, and 
Bhakti Yogins, though not in the sense in which 
Bhflttas and Monists understand the expressions. 

It may be thus seen that each succeeding wave 
of religious thought is a logical outcome of the 
preceding currents and waves of thought, embodying, 
assimilating and improving on them, and endeav- 
ouring, to harmonize the scriptural teachings on the 
point. Before concluding this bird's-eye-view of 
Vaishnavaism and of the teachers who brought about 
a renaissance in medieval India, it may not be out 
of place and without interest to trace in the 
barest outline, the inter-relation of the teachings of 
the Various schools, with a view to see how, and 
why, and in what respects, the several teachers 
promulgated somewhat divergent views Inter se. He 
who runs may read that Sri Sankara was a rigid 


upholder of caste. He was extremely jealous of 
Brahminical privileges. He did little to shatter the 
barriers that kept spiritual knowledge beyond the 
ken of non-Brahmins. He upheld the exclusiveness 
of caste and perpetuated the monopolies of priest- 
craft. The pendulum of reform oscillated towards a 
great reaction under Sri Ramanuja's impulse. He 
opened gate ways in the fence and made room for 
devotees, irrespective of caste, creed, or colour and 
allowed them to enter the fold and batten on the 
pastures of Vedanta. His large-hearted reform con- 
verted a Mahommadan Prince and Princess into 
Bhaktas, and gave to the world the blessings of a 
Kabir to bestir the soul to the profoundest depths 
of Prapatti. 

Within a century or two after Sri Ramanuja, the 
pendulum moved back again. It was probably felt 
that a promiscuous admission of people, irrespective 
of birth and qualifications, was productive of havoc, 
and was opposed to the spirit of scriptural injunctions 
and to the immemorial traditions of the land. Sri 
Madhva closed most of the gate-ways and pleaded 
again for secrecy and exclusiveness under certain limit- 
ations. Sri Krishna Chaitanya sent the pendulum of 
reform swinging back much farther than the point 
to which Sri Ramanuja had carried it. He threw 
salvation open to all, to the whole world, wherever 
born and whatever the caste. He counted Brahmins, 
non-Brahmins, Mahommadans, and Parayas among 
his devoted adherents. He sent his missiles of 
c Haribole ' into any vehicle, and caused it to fiance 
to the tune of a divine music. Even the barber who 
was shaving Sri Chaitanyas head at the time he 
was taking orders, got the infection of Hari Bhakti 


and could not complete shaving operation before 
he had danced in ecstasy two or three times in the 
middle of the process. 

Analogous to these varying movements of reform, 
among the Aiyangars, and even among Madhvas, 
minor secessions are not unknown, upholding 
liberalisation, or exclusiveness, in alternation. There 
have been Thengalais revering Tamil Prabandhams 
on a footing of equality with the Vedas, and Vadagalais 
opposing the view. Among Mfldhvas, there has 
been the subtle conflict of Dasakootas and 
Vyasakootas, the former regarding Canarese and 
vernacular works with peculiar sanctity, and the 
latter looking askance at the view as somewhat 

It may be remembered that both Sri Ramanuja 
and Sri Madhva attack all the Gods but Vishnu, of 
the Polytheistic hierachy, and dethrone them to 
subordinate ranks. There is however a noteworthy 
difference between them in respect to the position 
they assign to Siva. It is not improbable that the 
personal history, and the social and religious environ- 
ments, of each, lent a tinge of colour to their 
respective views. A Chola King, Krimikanta by name, 
inaugurated a bloody persecution of Sri Ramanuja's 
sect. The teacher was forced to banish himself for 
12 long years from Srirangam, and live away in 
Tiru Narayanapuram, and the neighbourhood. The 
tyrant was a most bigoted Saiva who threw 
himself heart and soul into the task of exterminating 
Vais|||avas. Two of Sri Ramanuja's adherents, 
Mahapurna and Alwan by name, offered themselves 
as victims to the Moloch, in order to save t^dr 
Guru, The hard-hearted monarch plucked thfir 

Jtjj8 part ii;*^reiusnii96s >o?ma mjadhva [cumt. 

j&$m froro $hfc sockets, and sent them home, Minded 
for ewer. This is a fair sample >df religious wtolarance 
"similar to what disgraced the pages of European 
history in the middle ages and in the time of 
Luther and Calvin. To this day, no member of 
the Ramanuja sect visits a Saivite temple or speaks 
pf Siva with devotion. Among the golden utter- 
ances of this teacher, (collected in C. K. Srinivasa 
Aiyangar's, book, p. 72) the injunction is forcibly 
repeated again and again that no God but Vishnu 
should be adored or respected. 

Sri Madhva's attitude towards Siva is very dif- 
ferent. He found that Siva was the popular deity of 
tfhe country He was probably born a Shivalli Saivite 
himself. He found South Canara in particular fuTl 
of temples where the Lingam was the idol of worship, 
and Bootastans, invariable adjuncts thereof. In the 
Ananteswara, Chandramouleswara, Kanana Devata, 
Veda Bandeswara temples, where he often wor- 
shipped in his youth, it is the Lingam that forms -the 
image, though some of these Lingams are considered 
to be representations of Vishnu and not of Siva. In 
Sri Madhva^s system, Siva occupies one of the 
highest ranks, he being placed .next to the Four-faced 
Brahma, Vayu, and their consorts. M^dhvas freely 
visit the temple of Siva, and worship this deity. 
There is not the least trace of rancour in any 
references or allusions to this deity in Madbva 

it does not appear that the Vaishnavaism of Sri 
Madlwa was a plagiarism from the teachings andtenets 
of Sri Ramanuja. If -tfhere is any place in Southern 
India whjere the Aiyangar community is conspicuous 
by its absentee, it h Canara. Sri Madhya built hi? 

im}: WA&E& Of V&ISHNAV-AISM. %$$ 

aysterao^a his* own interpretations of the Upanishsufc 
Geeta, and Sooira, Prastkdaas- A large and influential 
community of Brahuains following the Bhag^vata 
Sampradayam, inhabited Canara, and form even now 
a large percentage of Brahmins in the district- They 
may be readily identified by the namas they 
wear, which are exactly like those of M'adhv&s, 
except that the mudras are absent. It may be, 
that Sri Madhva did not change the namas, 
but simply added the Vaishnavaite marks of 
stamping the namas with the symbols of Vishnu. 
It is worthy of note that the followers of Bhaghavata 
Sampradayam hold Siva and Vishnu to be of equal 
position and dedicate temples to deities in the com- 
bined names, such as Hari Hara, Sankra Narayarta, 
and so on. 

Coming ne^t after Sri Sankara, the school ofi Sri 
Ramanuja shows leaning towards Adwaita ira some 
respects, as its name imports. The theory is; generally 
known as Visishtadwaita* It is said to be Ad wait 
though with a difference, Para Brahman ia fehis 
school, is often described as the material and efficient 
cause of the world. It is difficult to see; how God 
can be the material cause, in any school! of Dualism. 
In this and some other respects, Sri Madhva differs 
from Sri Ramanuja. With regard to the individual 
souls for example, Sri Vaishnavas hold them capable 
of Infinite knowledge and bliss, and say that when the 
final release occurs, all the released souls enjoy bliss 
in an equal measure of perfection, equal to God 
himself. Sad Vaishnavas (/. e. f Madhvas) do not grant 
this. To them, the idea of Jeevatmas ever reaching; a 
footing of equality with God, in point of bliss Or any 
other respect* is repugnamt. The drift of Sri 
ftfadfeva's* Dualism is to separate souls and m#fc$r 

a£o part a.— ^EAckiKG^ of SRi kAbuVA [criAf. 

from Parabrahman by a gulf of infinite difference 
and contrast.. ' Man is man, and God is God, and 
the twain will never be One', is the refrain of 

The theory of Mayic illusion propounded by Sri 
Sankara's school, seems to have so violently offended 
Sri Ramanuja, that he pulled it up, root and branch, 
and cast it to the winds. While Adwaitins main- 
tained the unreality of the Universe, by reason of 
Maya (illusion), Visishtadwaitins took up a position 
of diametrical opposition, and maintained that there 
is no such thing as illusion in the world at all, in 
matters mundane or divine. They held that even the 
silver-in-the-mother-of-pearl and the snake-in-the-rope 
are realities and not illusory. In this respect, Sri 
Madhva occupies a position of golden mean. With 
him, the world is real, and not illusory. But it is not 
impossible that illusion or misapprehension should 
occur when the senses and the mind are diseased, 
and sufficient cause exists, to produce a perverted 
perception or experience. He was not prepared to 
hold that when a rope is imagined to be a snake, 
that the snake exists in reality in the rope, and is 
not a mere figment of the imagination- 

Sri Ramanuja deemed it possible that the Almighty 
God might incarante as imperfect Avatars. For 
instance, they say that Anirudha, Pradyumna, and 
Sankarshana possess the divine attributes, only in part. 
Madhvas consider that the Supreme God is perfect 
in all His Avatars, and that there is not the slightest 
trace of a difference between one form and anothfer of 
the God's great manifestations. 

The Sri Bhashya recognizes and approves of the 
distinction drawn by the Sankarite school, between 

if 1. 3 frAtffcS OF VAISHriAVAlSlrf. 2^1 

the Karma-Kanda and the Gnana-Kanda of the Vedas. 
It is said that the drift and aim of each is different, 
and that the Upanishads alone deal with God -and with 
the Path. Sri Madhva holds that the distinction 
does not exist, that the import of all the Vedas is 
the same, and that every syllable and every sound 
of the Vedas sings the praise of God. 

Sri Chaitanya steered clear of these subtleties. 
He did not trouble himself to build up a system or 
think of details for a code of religion. His life 
shows that he was an uncompromising Dualist 
(Dwaiti). His biographer writes (p. IX)" Gouranga 
taught his followers to regard with abhorrence 
and loathing, the doctrine which makes the ex- 
tinction of the soul, or what is practically the 
extinction of the soul, the goal of life." He frequently 
held debates with Monists and vanquished them. 
He insisted that Bhakti and Prema alone could save 
the soul and not mere Gnan, much less Adwaitic 
knowledge. He taught the world that the position 
taken up by " cMUKH " ' that thou art', is true in the 
sense that He and the Jeeva belong to each other, 
and are indissolubly wedded to each other, by eternal 
ties. Every devotee should pray " I am thine, " " Thou 
are mine, " so that he may feel himself attracted to 
God as parent, child, friend, lover, all rolled into one, 
by the ties of eternal kinship and undying love. 

Some people say that Sri Chaitanya derived his 
ideas from Sri Vaishnavas. Others say that he was a 
Madhva. Swami Vivekananda is disposed to regard 
him as a Madhva Dualist, rather than a Visishtadwaitin. 
He speaks of our Acharya as "the great Madhva 
whose leadership was recognized even by the followers 
of the only Northern Prophet whose power hass been 

%&a par? &.~~^&to€ttmG$ Qti 3&i »adhva [cHA#, 

felt over the length and breadth of India,, Srri 
Krishna Chaitanya." It would appear that Sri 
Chaitanya wrote an independent commentary on the 
Brahma Sootras* Swami Vivekananda says " The 
eornimentry that Sri Chaitanya wrote on the Vyasa 
Sootras, has either been lost or not found yet His 
disciples joined themselves to the Madhvas of the 

That there are however well-marked differences 
between Chaitanyas school on the one hand, and 
both the Vaishnavaite schools of the south, on the 
other, hardly admits of doubt. It is not easy to say 
that the Northern Prophet borrowed any set of beliefs 
or practices, en- bloc, from Sri Vaishnavas or Sad 
Vaishnavas,, though striking similarities of doctrine 
appear on most of the essential points, in all the three 
schools of thought. 

The reader will find abundant food for reflection 
in the history of these great Luthers. No history is 
possible in the common-place course of mundane life. 
Where men simply pursue the even tenour of the 
way, where the despotism of custom reduces every- 
thing to a dead level, rounds off angularities then 
and there, smoothens individuality, and compresses 
the genius in the iron vice of uniformity just as they 
deal with the lady's foot, up- in China, history is 
entirely out of place. But the great man subdues 
circumstances and rises above them to tower high 
and rule his fellows. He is the master, not the slave, 
of his surroundings. He cuts out a path for himself 
and creates a history. 

Sri Ranianuja, Sri Madhva, and Sri Chaitanya 
were great personalities of this stamp, who broke 
tteongfa the fetters of custom** and boldly struck into 


paths of original research and useful reform. During 
the six hundred years under review, many a man 
of mighty intellect led the world of thought. It is 
usual to taunt the East as vegetating in a slough of 
stagnation. John Smart Mill finds genius possible 
oinly in a*n atmosphere of freedom. What there was in 
this particular age, so conducive to the growth of 
genius, it is difficult to say. But the fact is 
undoubtedly clear, that it was an age of mighty 
(intellects and -dashing progress . Besides the great 
masters noticed in these pages, it may fee remem- 
bered that there were others too, for ii&sta^ce, 
Vidyaranya the greai Vedic commentator of tbe 
Adwaka school, Vedanta Desikar of Ram an uja sect, 
<and Jaya Theerthacharya the great commentator *of 
the Madhva school, who lived as contemporaries in 
the 14th century. 

To this day, the history ^of these three sects 
knows of no names greater than these, in the religious 
literature of the respective schools. It is a remark- 
able coincidence that Southern India gave birth to 
three such giants, at the same time, to stand out as 
vigorous exponents of the respective systems, and 
cause them to strike root, deep dm the toeartsof men. 



In the District Manual of South Canara, there 
is a vague suggestion thrown out that Christianity 
may have influenced or affected the teachings ot Sri 
Madhva. This random suggestion has been some- 
what eagerly seized by some detractors, and amplified 
by a so-called array of reasons in support of the view. 
The object is to show that the Dwaita Philosopher of 
Canara is not a great personage after all, that he 
possessed little or no originality of views, and that he 
scrupled not to borrow tenets in disguise from 
Christianity without acknowledging indebtedness. 

The basis for this charge of plagiarism seems, on 
examination, to be very meagre and intangible. The 
District Manual which is responsible for the cue 
devotes very little space to this religious founder and 
his teachings. It accords but a passing notice to the 
subject, and does not seem over-anxious to be accur- 
ate in its history or comments- It starts by saying 
that Sri Madhva was born at Kalianpur, a few miles 
from Udupi. This is utterly wrong. Sri Madhva's birth- 
place is Pajakakshetra, some miles from Udupi in a 
different direction. History, tradition, monuments, and 
memorials are unanimous about this, There has been 
no controversy at all on this point, such as exists, 
for example, regarding the nativity of Sri Sankara. 
There has not been the feeblest suggestion anywhere in 
Maadhva writings or traditions in fovour of Kalianpur. 
Yet, the District Manual has dreamed of this as the 
birth-place of Sri Madhva. This inaccuracy is not 
calculated to impress any one knowing the facts, with 


a high regard for the reliableness of the historical 
sketch contained in the pages of the Manual (page 63). 
In another place, it is said, that Sri Madhva went over 
to Vijianagar by the influence of a Sringeri Swami. 
This is indeed startling news. Sri Madhva was always 
at daggers drawn with Sringeri Abbots, and courted 
not their friendship at any time. The idea of receiving 
a favour from this quarter would have been gall and 
wormwood to him. Vijianagar was, during the days of 
Sri Madhva, a petty state of little consequence, ahd 
the Sringeri monastery had not yet acquired a strong 
foot-hold in that state. It was Vidyaranya that gained 
influence in that court, and Vidyaranya was long after 
Sri Madhva's time. What an anachronism does this 
assertion convey then, that Sri Madhva went over to 
Vijianagar, and this, by the influence of a Sringeri 
Swami ! It is needless to add that there is no mention 
of this extraordinary incident in Sriman Madhva Vijia. 
The only solution of this enigma, that I can think of, 
lies probably in the frequent confusion between Sri 
Madhva and Madhava that European scholars fall 
into. Vidyaranya was known as M&dhavacharya, and 
he was a Sringeri abbot, and had influence in the court 
of the Bukkas. 

To probablize the suggestion of Christian in- 
fluence, it is stated that at Kalianpur there was a 
community of this faith in the 7th century A. D. The 
words of the Manual are " The moral code of Madhva 
is a high one, and his teaching is held by some, not 
ordinary Hindus, of course, to have been affected by 
the existence of the community of Christians at Kalian- 
pur mentioned by Cosmos lndico Pleustes in the 7th 
century A. D." 

I have already pointed out the error about 
Kalianpur having been misconceived to be the birth 


place of Sri Madhva, It is very doubtful whether any 
Christian community and a Christiamchurch, did exist 
in Sri Madhv&'s days (13th century), and whether he 
ever came in contact with its votaries or missionaries. 
Nor is there the slightest basis for the supposition 
of an intimate acquaintance between the Master and 
any Christians, in the whole of his career. On this 
point, another significant passage may be quoted from 
the same book (Dt. Manual, p. 181). It says " No 
tradition remains now, among the natives of Canara, of 
a Christian community existing north of Malabar prior 
to the Portuguese who made themselves masters in 
1526 A.D," This removes all doubts in the matter, 
and cuts the root of the belief that Sri Madhva and a 
Christian community were ever thrown together for a 
friendly exchange of amenities. 

So much about the historical basis of the sugges- 
tion. The critics do not rest there. Whether there 
be proof of actual contact, or. not, our critics go on to 
say, there are some stricking coincidences of doctrine 
between Christianity and " Madhvaism", and some 
parallel incidents noticeable in the Gospels and the 
Madhva Vijia are irresistibly significant. These further 
proofs deserve to be noticed. They are said to be. — 

(1) The Christians believe in eternal Hell; so 

does Sri Madhva. 

(2) The Christians believe in salvation through 

Jesus Christ ; Sri Madhva substitutes Vayu 
for Jesus. 

(3) The Gospels speak of Christ's childhood-flight 

to a temple. Sri Madhva wandered from 
temple to temple, on a certain occasion, 
when still a boy. 

m] dWmta and christian niFLtiENCfe. 267 

(4) Sri Madhva spent 48 days in fasting and 

prayer, before he visited Badari. A similar 
episode occurs in the Bible. 

(5) When entertained by poor people, Sri Madhva 

performed the miracle of causing a small 
quantity of food satisfy the hunger of large 
numbers of people. This corresponds to 
Christ's feat of multiplying loaves and fishes. 

(6) In Madhva Vijia ; a certain phrase occurs, 

which refers to Madhvas "angling for 
souls." This phrase looks Biblical, for, 
the Christians compare evangelists to 
anglers of fish. 

Of these points, Nos. 1 and 2 alone can be 
charged at the door of Sri Madhva. The other four 
are culled from the biography written by an admirer 
of Sri Madhva. The critic probably thinks that 
owing to Christian admiration, the biographer 
invented paralled episodes to enhance Sri Madhva's 
glory. If so, it is the fault of the biographer, Pandit 
Narayana, in his zeal to make Sri Madhva shine in 
borrowed feathers. 

Sri Madhva assigns all T&masas by nature to eter- 
nal hell. He classifies Jeevas into 3 classes, viz*, 
Sdtwica, Bajasa, and Tamasa. In the 17th and the 18th 
chapters of the Bhagavat Geeta, there is an illuminat- 
ing exposition of the three gunas as the bases of a 
three-fold division. Sri Krishna illustrates the points 
by a great variety of references. He shows how food, 
sacrifice, speech, penance, rites, knowledge, duty, 
agent, Budhi, Dhriti, and happiness, are all 
three-fold in character, according to Satva, Rajas, 
and Tamas, dominating in each. He refers to men 
also divided thus into three classes. The Satwica 


goes to Heaven, the Rajasa stays for ever in Samsara 
and the Tamasa goes to eternal Hell. This is the 
logical conclusion of the Hindu Scriptures. 

Christianity does not inculcate this three-fold 
classification. It is a very superficial coincidence in- 
deed, that both believe in an eternal hell. If Sri 
Madhva borrowed at all, why should he not have 
borrowed the view of Christianity that salvation is 
open to all. 

The next point which is supposed to be more con- 
clusive, is Sri Madhva's theory of salvation through 
Vayu. I am not at all sure that in this respect of a 
supposed intermediary, the Christians and Madhvas 
see eye to eye. Apart from the difference of names, 
which is nothing, the Christian's idea of Christ's 
function and position is radically different from that of 
Vayu, Jesus Christ was a vicarious sufferer. This 
is unknown to us. Vayu suffers nothing to wipe away 
the sins of humanity. There is no crucifixion of Vayu 
as a representative of sinning souls. That idea is 
purely Christian. 

Prana, the chief of breaths, is a deity adored in 
the Upanishads as the highest deity next to God. 
He is a Jeeva, all the same, though he is 
the best of them. In the theory of involution and 
evolution, Brahma and Vayu have an important 
function. As the presiding deity of Jeevas, all Jeevas 
issue out of Vayu, and are involuted in Vayu, from 
Ralpa to Kalpa. This is the expression of a scientific 
fact based on the Hindu idea of creation and 

Bhaktas are expected to worship God dwelling 
m PrAna. They cannot reach God directly, in con- 


ccption. They are advised to think of the Supreme 
Being that dwells in the vehicular image- of Prana* In 
daily service, we worship God dwelling in a. metallic 
image, after invoking God's presence therein. The 
invocation is the most important part of the function, 
to make sure of God's special presence in the idol. 
The idols in the shrines of Srirangam and Tirupati 
are ardently worshipped, because men are sure of 
the Divine presence in those figures in a special 
degree* Prana, the foremost of Jeevas and Bhakta% 
is the image in which God's presence is a certainty. 
Therefore worshippers are asked to adore Narayana 
the in-dweller of Vayu. 

In the system of Sri Chaitanya, the Bhaktas are 
asked to love God as Radha did. It is laid down that, 
as man cannot love God as Radha did, he must follow 
" in the wJce of Radha " * " Let him contemplate the 
love that Radha felt for Krishna, and by that, he will 
be able to acquire the feeling, step by step. Radha is 
the medium through whom human creatures attain to 
Sri Krishna." Prana is the best of Yekanta Bhaktas, 
and it is therefore our duty to follow in his wake. 
The Ramanujas are not without their Jesus Christ to 
act as an intermediary in a certain sense. The late 
Mr. Kasturi Iyengar delivered in the Coimbatore 
Town Hall a very learned lecture pointing out 
that ' Sri ' or " Lakshmi ' corresponded to Jesus 
Christ, in Visishtadwaita philosophy- I do not know if 
we will be told that Sri Ramanuja also was guilty of 
a disguised plagiarism- 

The supposed analogy or similarity of incidents 
referred to as points 3-4-5-6 supra, is, it must be 
allowed, not of much consequence. If we but look 

# Vide P. 219 S. Kttiw'i book. 


into the mutter, such coincidences and analogies are 
common in many biographies. It it conceded that 
the Sankara Vijia of Vidyaranya was produced 
in imitation of Madhva Vijia, There are many 
episodes in Sri Sankara's life which look like 
striking borrowings from Sri Madhva's life. It is 
said that Sri Sankara, for example, made his disciple 
Padmapada walk on the surface of the Ganges as 
on Terra Firma. This is very similar to a feat of the 
same kind recorded of Sri Madhva. Can it be con- 
tended that the one is a copy from the other ? Between 
Madhva's life and Chaitanya's life, there are striking 
similarities. The story of academical contests and 
controversial tours looks quite similar. The incident 
in Sri Madhva's life of the Mahommedan Emperor, 
who was at first hostile, and who turned a friend, finds 
a paralled in Sri Chaitanya's history. We are told 
that Sri Chaitanya often ate huge dinners, when large 
quantities were offered to him, and he had not the 
heart to disoblige the host. Madhva is supposed 
to have frequently performed this feat. 

The observation that the simile of the angler fishing 
for souls suggests Christian influence is hardly a serious 
argument. It is merely a verbal similarity. In page 
187 of the " life of Gouranga," the author speaks of 
him as having attracted the hearts of those present i as 
an angler attracts a fish '.? This is an expression used in 
" Chaitanya Charitamrita." In page 204, it is observed 
that he drew men towards him as an angler draws 
a fish. The figure of speech is not one unknown to 
Sanskrit and Bengali literature, and is not a purely 
Biblical expression. 

That on many a point of doctrine there is 
similarity between our system and Christianity is not 


denied. Both are Dualists and theists, believing in a 
personal God, who creates, sustains, and destroys 
the world. Both believe in Heven and Hell. Both 
believe in the divine grace as the source of life and 
as the cause of libertation. Both are anti-monistic and 
both strongly believe in Bhakti and prayers. 

At the same time, it must also be remembered 
that numerous are the points of disagreement too. 
' Madhvaism * is purely Hindu in that it believes in 
Transmigration and Karma, whereas the Christian 
will not listen to it for a moment. Sri Madhva riveted 
the bonds of caste, and laid down very rigid rules for 
Varnas and Asramas. While the Christian considers 
that God created the world out of nothing, Sri Madhva 
upholds the Sankhya view that nothing can come out 
of nothing. He is purely Hindu in this respect. The 
theory of Bandha and Moksha as expounded by Sri 
Madhva rests on the authority of the Vedas, Itihasas, 
and Puranas. It is needless to labour the point. 
No impartial student of the two theologies will 
confound them as copies of each other, having 
regard to the impress of Hindu individuality readable 
in every line of the Madhva writings. 

Professor Max Muller takes a very sensible view 
of the matter, and protests against the exaggerated 
importance given to supposed coincidences. He says 
at p. 218 of his " Thoughts on life and Religion", " If 
comparative theology has taught us anything, it has 
taught us that there is a common fund of truth in all 
religions, derived from a revelation that was neither 
confined to one nation, nor miraculous in the usual 
sense of the word, and that even minute coin- 
cidences between the doctrines, nay, between the 


external accessories, of various religions, need 
not be accounted for, at once, by disguised borrow- 
ings, but can be explained by other, and more 
natural, causes." 



In the diversity ol doctrines that have had a 
following in India, and are collectively referred to 
as Hinduism, if we try to think of any underlying 
unities, we are struck with the consensus of opinion 
on two points at least, namely (i) Karma and (2) 
Metempsychosis. The thcistic as well as atheistic 
creeds of India have mostly pleaded warmly for 
these two theories, to account for the evolution of 
man. One notable exception is the Chdrvaka, 
who is a thorough materialistic secularist. His 
system hardly deserves to be called a philosophy, 
for, he does not care to put forward a reasoned theory 
of man and the universe. 

In reviewing the ancient systems, they are usually 
classified as Vedic and non-Vedic, according as they 
admit the authority of the Vedas or not. Bouddha, 
Pasupata, and similar systems, do not admit the Vedas 
as revelations. Nyaya, Vaiseshika, Sankhya, and 
Yoga, accept the Vedas as revelations. These four 
systems of philosophy are agreed in placing special 
stress and value on reason as the chief guide to know- 
ledge, while the Charvaka accepts (wsng) direct percep- 
tion alone, as the source of true knowledge. He 
relies on reason as a secondary source, whose value 
lies in (Sambhavana) probablizing conclusions! 
Akshapada, Kanada, Kapila and Paianjali, state that 
44 Reasoning " furnishes the chief means of t$u£ 


knowledge, though they admit other sources too. 
These four and Charvaka are called Haitukas. While 
Bouddha, and Pasupata are known as Pashandas. 

Among the Haitukas, Charvaka relies on 
Prathyaksha ; Vaiseshikas (followers of Kanada) say 
that Prathyaksha and Anumana (reason or inference) 
are the only two sources ol human knowledge. 
The Naiyayikas, Akshapada, Goutama, and Udayana, 
postulate Prathyaksha, Anumana, Upamana, and 
Sabda (Perception, Inference, Analogy, and Testi- 
mony) as the sources. The Vaiseshikas think that 
though the Vedas may be trustworthy as the produc- 
tions of God, spoken words of lesser persons have no 
value as such, and are incapable of producing correct 
knowledge. In the view of Kanada, they may be 
ancillary aids to inference, but independently, they 
are valueless. 

Jaimini and Vedanta accord to the Vedas a 
peculiar position and importance. A certain writer 
puts it thus : " Haitukas took nature as their text, and 
reason as their guide ; Jaimini took the Vedas as 
his text and Divine reason as revealed therein as his 

Nyaya and Vaiseshika systems arrive at God by 
syllogistic reasoning. Vedantins think that God is 
not knowable by inference, and that no deduction or 
induction is capable of establishing the existence of 
the Supreme Being. The Vedantins, therefore, 
postulate the Vedas first and establish God s existence 
on the strength of the Vedas. The Haitukas (ex* 
eluding Charvaka and Kapila) postulate God first, and 
attribute the Vedas to his authorship. 

V.j DtfAtiSI* COtfPAftgD Atffl CONTfU3f£0. $f§ 

To those who have a superficial acquainting 
with the origin and evolution of the Hiiidu Daftalittf * 
it may appear that Monism is the oldest creed in India, 
that Visishtadwaita, is next in birth, and that Dualism 
is the latest of all, a growth of comparatively 
modern times. This idea of sequence is based 
on the chronolology of Sri Sankara, Sri Ramanuja, 
and Sri Madhva, the three great apostles of the 
respective schools. But Dualism was known long 
before Sri Ramanuja and Sri Madhva popularised 
it. Of the six ancient systems, Nyaya and Vaiseshika 
are allied, and so are Sankhya and Yoga* 
The latest pair of all, is Purva Meemamsa an& 
Uttara Meemamsa. The first four are all dualiStic, 
None of them preaches the unity of soul and matter. 

The Sankhya school is, strictly speaking, atheistic. 
It considers that Prakriti and Purusha account for 
everything. Purusha is the individual soul, of which 
there is an unlimited number. Primordial Prakriti 
is matter consisting of the 24 principles ranging from 
the three gunas down to the gross earth (solids). By 
the joinder of Purusha and Prakriti (spirit and matter), 
Sams&ra is the result. Their divorce is the goal to be 
reached. Both are real entities that get on without 
any controlling Force or Power. The Universe accorcf- 
ing to this view, is a self-governing common-wealth, 
Each spirit-unit of this republic, is engaged iA a 
ceaseless struggle to get free from the bit of matter 
to which it remains wedded. A well-developed 
memory enabling the Purusha to remember his 
original freedom, and a thorough knowledge gained 
by a bitter experience of the unworthinefcs of cosrtiic 
existence, enabk the Purusha to betake himself % 
the right path. Life is nothing but .gull and «¥<^8ir 


wood. This realized, the ardent struggle to get free 
ends in liberation. 

The Sankhya philosophy contains the most ration- 
al and authoritative exposition of evolution extant in 
the Indian literature. The analysis of the three gunas 
and their successive products is so thorough that it 
leaves nothing to be desired. Ail the later systems 
have adopted it, without question, and, to this day, it 
is acknowledged as the best exposition of the subject. 

The Sankhya based his theories on 'Reason', 
He laid stress on the wheel-and-the-clay-analogy, and 
deduced the world, and conceived the build of cosmos, 
on the same principle. But he apparently overlooked 
the fact that the wheel and the clay do not make up the 
pot. The Sankhya forgot the Potter who is the chief 
actor in the business. 

The Yoga of Patanjali which is usually paired 
with Sankhya, remedied this defect by acknowledging 
a God. In all other respects, it followed the 
Sankhyan ideas. Patanjali worked out a code of 
physical discipline as the training school of spiritual 
education. In order to subdue desire, he advocated 
annihilation of flesh by drastic methods. He did not 
devote much thought to bring out a clear concep- 
tion of the Supreme Being. He conceived God as 
a great Being, who lived far, far away, count- 
ing rosary beads, and looking on unconcerned 
with the struggles of humanity. 

The next pair, Nyaya and Vaiseshika, were 
systems of bold reasoning. They are the founders of 
Indian logic In subtleties, and clearness of psychologi- 
cal analysis, Akshapada and Kanada, the founders 
thereof, wer<2 matchless. They had a firm grip of the 


laws of thought and their delicate working. Their 
treatises on inductive and deductive logic are masterly. 
The way in which the great writers of Nyaya, 
represented by Siromani, Gadadhara, and scores of 
Navadweep Pandits in modern times, deal with the 
fine shades of logical principles, has excited universal 

These two schools admit God as the over-ruling 
Power. They say that God is the author of the 
Revelations. The Naiyayika admits an Eternal, Sup- 
reme, Personal God, as well as an eternal multitudin- 
ous number of souls. To these, he adds eternal, 
numerous, atoms of matter. The Vaiseshika admits 
these too, though he differs from his brother on some 
minor points. 

The atomic theory of this school is not very in- 
telligible. It does not correspond to the atomic theory 
of modern chemistry. Western science itself has not 
made up its mind about it. The Indian school 
sets an arbitary limit to the divisibility of particles. 
It calls a certain particle, of a certain minute size, a 
Paramanu or atom, and says ' Thus far you shall go 
and no farther'. It thinks that Paramanu is an 
ultimate unit which is physically incapable of further 

As for souls, these are not only infinite in 
number, but in infinite in size, individually. Theorists 
who fight shy of two infinites as a contradiction in 
terms and a scientific impossibility, may look well 
aghast, staggered by the Naiyayic position of infinite 

The tenets of Jaimini (Poorva Meemamsa) attach 
the highest importance to Sabda and the Ved#i, 

2?& PART it— fEACrilNGS Of SRI MAfrHVA tcHAP. 

He refers to God as Sabda Brahma. Veda exists 
eternally in the mind oi Brahman as Vak, the 
unspoken Divine Word. Veda is the spiritual 
incarnation of God. In Jaimini's view, Heaven is a 
gift of God's grace, too good to be won as of right, 
by any mortal. Jaimini conceives the cosmos as a 
symphony of rare beauty, perfect in every key and 
note. Sabda Brahma is the source of the harmony 
on which, the universe is planned, modulated, and 

The Uttara Meemamsa comprises the Brahma 
Sootras of Srimat Badarayana. Sri Sankara, Sri 
Ramanuja, and Sri Madhva, are the modern com- 
mentators of these aphorisms. The true import of the 
Sootras has been the subject of acrimoniousxontro* 
versy for many centuries. 

Even before Sri SankaraV time, there were, 
obviously, commentaries that interpreted the Sootras 
in a dualistic sense. Sri Ramanuja is said to have 
perused a copy of Bodhyana Vritti in Srinagar of 
Cashmere, and based his own Sri Bhashya on that 
ancient commentary. 

A modern thinker sums up Sri Madhva's Dualism 
thus : — 

" Dualists believe in an extra-mundane Personal 
God, who is the repository of all blessed qualities, who 
is omnipotent, omniscient, and all loving, who creates 
the universe, not out of nothing, but out of the material 
nature which is eternal. God is the efficient cause of 
the universe, and nature is the material cause. They 
believe that the world existed in the past, and will 
exist in the future, from eternity. They say that 
nature is eternal, so are individual souls. Eacfe 


soul after remaining potentially in nature, for sometime, 
comes out of the causal state, at the beginning of a 
new cycle of creation or evolution or manifestation, 
in gross forms, one after another, going through the 
different grades of evolution, according to its desires 
and tendencies, until it reaches perfection. The 
human soul is like an infinitesimal particle of nature 
containing the Divine light of intelligence and Divine 
power, in an infinitely small degree, whose duty is to 
serve God through prayers and good deeds. God loves 
all and can be loved in return. Those who worship 
Him through unswerving devotion and unselfih 
love, obtain freedom from the dark side of 
nature, that is, from the bondage of ignorance, 
selfishness, suffering, misery, and all other imper- 
fections, and after death, they live a life of bliss and 
perfection, in the presence of the Eternal Personal 
God. This is salvation according to the dualist in 

India." (Swami Abhedananda, Divine Heritage of 
Man, pages 128 to 132.) 

The tenets of Sri Madhva on the points dealt with 
in Uttera Meemamsa are well summed up in a verse 
which is well known : 

The meaning is " In Sri Madhva's theology, Hari 
is supreme, the world is real, separateness is true, the 
individual souls are infinitely graded as superior and in- 
ferior, and are dependent on God, liberation is self- 
realisation consisting in the enjoyment of such bliss as 
remained latent in the soul. Pure Bhakti (devotion^|| 
the means to this end Perception, inference, an! 


testimony, are the sources of knowledge (measures 
of proof) mundane and heavenly. Hari is know- 
able in the entirety of the Vedas and by Vedas alone/ 1 

From this resume, it is clear that Sri Madhva is 
Vaishnava, as Hari is the Supereme Being in his creed. 
He is a dualist who believes in the verity of God, Jeeva, 
and matter, existing eternally as distinct entities. The 
theistic Sankhya, Nyaya, Vaiseshika and Poorva 
Meemamsa, support Sri Madhva in this view. These 
philosophers are uncompromising dualists. Sri 
Sankara is the only great name that was opposed to 
this position. Hence, a very large part of Madhva 
writings is taken up with a minute refutation of Sri 
Sankara's Monism. 

Sri Madhva was not satisfied with the Atheistic 
Sankhya. A world without a maker, was by him, 
deemed an absurdity. He repudiated the 
importance attached by the Haituka schools to 
"Inference." Sri Madhva maintained that percep- 
tion and testimony were of higher value than 
Inference. No syllogism is possible without a 
reliance on either Perception or Revelation as an 
authoritative basis of the middle term. The basis 
of logic is observation and experience. If this be 
faulty, the logical reasoning based on it, results in a 
fallacy. As for God, no amount of human reasoning 
can lead to a deduction of God. Human reason is 
too feeble to demonstrate the existence of God. 
Revelation in the shape of a self-existent Veda is the 
only alternative, in his view. 

Thus Sri Madhva refuses to be a Haituka because, he 
does not concede the highest value to Anumana, but 
place it in subordination to srsrepr and srjf. Unlike Char- 


vaka, he admits inference to be proof, though tif 
inferior importance. 

Sri Madhva is thus neither a Haituka nor a Pa- 
shanda, because unlike the former, he admits the 
veracity of Perception, Inference, and Testimony, 
without any prominence to the second of these, and 
because unlike the latter (Pashanda), he views Vedas 
as self-existent (uncreated by any personal author, 
Apaurushcya) and absolutely authoritative. 

The vitality of the Vedanta schools of 
thought is due in a remarkable measure to this 
tenet about the Revealed Word. The Indian 
philosopher does not stake his system upon the 
historical idiosyncracies of any author, human 
or divine. Christianity, for instance, stands or 
falls by Christ as portrayed in the Gospels. If 
any historical flaw be detected in the person- 
ality or episodes connected with Christ, the 
creed itself is likely to suffer. So it is, with Islam, 
and with other creeds, whose destiny is intimately 
bound up with a Founder. The Indian philosophies 
promulgate truths as resting on Vedas. To them, the 
personality of the propounder and promulgator is not 
of such moment as the Vedas. In India, tenets and 
truths are all-important, and do not stand or fall by 
the personality of an author or law-given 

While giving cordial support to the Haituka's 
view about the separateness of spirit and matter, 
dnd the infinite varieties of each, Sri Madhva differs 
from Nyaya in three important respects at least : (t) 
with him, the Jeeva is of atomic minuteness, and riot 
of infinite expansiveness. God is the Being that is 
infinitely expanded, that is Omnipresent, Thd 
individual soul is a poor limited being confined to"! 


minttte fraction of space. (2) Sri Madhva holds that 
there is no particle of matter that is incapable of division 
ad infinitum. 'It may be, that no human hand may 
possess the necessary skill and the necessary 
apparatus or implement to effect divisions beyond 
a certain stage, but this does not matter. The 
particle is still capable of parts and liable to be 
divided. Hence, the atomic theory of Akshapada 
and Kanada is arbitrary and illogical. It is a pure 
dogma for which no authority can be cited in Reason 
or Revelation. (3) Nor is there any ground for the 
supposition that pleasure is only a negation, absence, 
or abolition, of pain. Moksha is according to 
Sri Madhva, of a dual nature. There is the 
absence of pain as well as the enjoyment of positive 

The 'Haitukas made the grand mistake of suppos- 
ing that the Jeeva can work out his salvation 
by unaided struggles. They believed in Karmic 
accumulations and believed in the possibility of 
repaying every debt of Karma to the very last pie. 
Sri Madhva adopts the loftly theory of Bhakti, and 
relies on Bhakti as the saviour of man. According to 
him, devotion, is the only high-way. God's grace 
obtained by Aparoksha, God-vision, is the only solvent 
for Karmic accumulations. In this respecl, viz., of 
advocating Bhakti and divine Grace as the saviour of 
mankind, Sri Madhva agrees with Jaimini prominently. 

The school of Sri Madhva has been summed up by 
one writer of note as a pnilosophy of ' relations* and 
' degrees/ We believe in God and the Jeeva being 
eternally and indissolubly related to each other. 
God is an Absolute, but chooses to be in relation. 
He \% a Bimba, and all Jeevas are his reflections; 


Pratibimbas. This relation never dies, either before 
or after liberation and redemption. 

The duality implied in thought as subject and 
object, endures for ever. The merger of the two te 
inconceivable, consistently with the laws of thought 
The dualism of subject and object constitutes the law 
and the frame-work of thought. It is the form which 
every thought must take. In trying to identify subject 
and object, we annihilate thought itself. The world 
is framed upon this limitation, and where is the 
possibility of outsoaring this vital limitation ? Hence 
the only union that is possible is in the subordination 
of the human will in the Divine will, in the 
acknowledgment of the eternal dependence of the 
Jeeva on God, in the realisation of this relation, and 
seeking redemption by binding ourselves with God in 
immortal love (Bhakti). 

The other key-note of Sri Madhva's creed relates 
to the degrees of worth and rank into which the 
Jeevas are divided. The cosmos consists of infinite 
varieties of souls and things, Their capacities are 
divergent, and their functions are unlike. Evolution 
implies variety and gradation. It is Gods plan of 
work in the animate, as well as the inanimate, 
kingdom. Souls are accordingly good, bad, and 
indifferent. Inter se 9 they attract some souls and repel 
others. Their attraction, repulsion, and apathy, 
towards God, determines their status, worth, and 
destiny. Even material objects are thus resolvable 
into Satwic, Rajasic, and Tamasic. 

Modern science speaks of electrons (ultimate 
units of matter, so far known) having spontaneity 
as an inalienable birth-right, together with innate 
tendencies of attraction and repulsion. A scientist 

3#4 PART li.-^f£ACiHlN<iS OF 3RI MADrfVA [CHAP* 

reni&rks, "In the chemical relation of the various 
elements towards each other, they manifest every 
shade of inclination, from complete indifference to 
the fiercest passion." 

Every one of the positions adverted to in the 
Sanskrit verse quoted above, is the theme of 
voluminous dissertations in our sacred writings. I 
have referred to the barest outline of the thoughts, 
as it is not practicable to do more. 

Impartial scholars of the Vedanta have, some of 
them, been forced to admit that the Brahma Sootras 
and the Bhagavat Geeta, read without bias, do not 
support the Adwaita doctrine. Two quotations must 
suffice to indicate the general drift of this view. 

In the course of a very closely reasoned intro- 
duction to the translation of Sankara Bhashya, Dr. 
Thibaut, the well-known oriental scholar, sums up 
his conclusions thus : " I must give it as my opinion 
that they (the Sootras) do not set forth the distinction of 
a higher and a lower knowledge of Brahman, that they 
do not acknowledge the distinction of Brahman and 
Iswara in Sankara's sense, that they do not hold the 
doctrine of the unreality ot the world, and that they do 
not, with Sankara, proclaim the identity of the 
individual and the highest Self." 

Anent the philosophy of the Bhagavat Geeta, 
Mr. L.D. Barnet summarises it thus in the Oriental 
Review of London in a recent article : "At the summit 
of all existence is an absolute spirit, variously called, 
Paramatman, Purushottama, Vasudeva, Iswara, 
Narayana, Govinda, Hari, or Vishnu. But though a 
Being inconceivable and above the three moods, He 
is not the blank, attributeless, unqualified One of the 
Vedanta (Adwaita). On the other hand, in Him 


are united all conceivable good qualities raised 
to infinity : all goodness, knowledge, .and blessed- 
ness, that are and may be, abide in an immeasur- 
able degree in Him. He is the soul, the witness, the 
inward ruler, of the universe. All the universe is 
real, for it is inspired throughout by this blessed 
soul. The universe comprises two real categories, 
one matter, and infinitely many souls ; Cosmically, 
they are real God has willed the world, wills it 
ever, and His Grace is to be found everywhere, by 
them that seek it, for deliverance from the cycle of 
birth. It may be found through knowledge or through 
austerities, — knowiedge like the Sankhya teaching 
the eternal difference of soul and matter, and 
austerity like the Yoga quickening enlightenment by 
closing the eye of the flesh ; — but in all seekings, there 
must rule the spirit of the loving devotion (Bhakti), else 
knowledge and austerity will seldom avail/' 

This writer sums up the teachings of the Bhagavat 
Geeta as he reads it. He does not profess to give 
Sri Madhva's or anybody's summary. The reader 
will see how remarkably well it coincides with Sri 
Madhva's interpretation of true Vedanta. 



It is impossible to think of any Teacher in 
India who has been more admired or more criticised 
than Sri Sankara. On the one hand, his Maya Vada 
has evoked the highest praise that language can 
express, and provoked likewise, on the other hand, 
the bitterest possible criticism. 

Of late, the tendency has been more to admire 
than to depreciate this philosophy. A vast literature 
is growing over the subject, presenting Sri 
Sankara's Monism in various aspects, explaining, 
elucidating, and distinguishing, the super-subtle 
shades of thought, with all the ingenuity of which the 
Indian philosophical brain is capable. It is almost 
coming to be thought that not to admire Sri Sankara 
is to argue oneself unphilosophic and ignorant In 
this state of things, it should be wise on my part not 
to attempt anything like a discussion of such a highly 
applauded school of thought. But in justice to Sri 
Madhva, I feel bound to refer to the leading ideas of 
Maya Vada, however cursorily it may be, because this 
is the only school that the Master concentrated all his 
efforts to overthrow. 

It is not easy to set down even the cardinal 
ideas of the school in an exhaustive manner, or 
condense in a short compass all that could be said 
pro and con. Adwaitism is thus set forth in the 
Advanced Text Book of Sanatana Dharma (Benares). 
"The Adwaita Vedanta is summed up in the words 
dc^fc "Thou art That." Brahman is Nirguna, without 


attributes, and is Real ; all else is unreal Jivatma and 
Paramatma are the same, there is no difference. The 
idea of difference arises from Avidya, Nescience, and 
when the Atma transcends Nescience, it knows its own 
nature and is free. The universe springs from Brahman 
as hairs from a man's head ; it is the work of Maya. Cause 
and effect are one and the same (*l4%KuUfl^0 not two 
different things, as an aggregate of threads is cloth, 
and there is no cloth apart from the threads that 
run lengthways and crossways. The unreality of the 
Universe having Reality, as it were, behind it, has 
a kind of reality, like a shadow which could not 
exist without a substance, and this justifies and 
makes necessary, activity of all kinds. Hence also 
there is an snrotfrcn the knowledge of the phenomenal 
as well as qnf^rerr the knowledge of the Noumenon. 
Having established the fundamental truth of Unity, the 
Vedanta explains the conditions which surround the 
Atma enveloped in Avidya, the Upadhi which makes 
its illusory separateness, their grouping as Sthoola, 
Sookshma, and Karana Sariras and the States of 
consciousness belonging to these. While the Atma 
identifies itself with the Upadhis, it is bound ; when it 
knows itself as itself, it is free. For those who are 
not yet ready for this effort after self-knowledge, 
ritual is not only desirable but necessary ; but for 
those who have reached the point where only the 
Atma attracts, Gnanam is enough, and Brahman is the 

The leading ideas of Maya Vada lay stress on the 
points : 

i, that Brahman is Nirguna, without attributes, 
ii. that Brahman and the Universe of Spirit and 
Matter are identical 


iii that Avidya or Nescience accounts for the 
transformation, or illusory appearance, of 
the world. 

Point I. — Nirguna. 

Adwaita lays down that Brahman is attributeless. 
No doubt the expression fti^ui does occur in Vedantic 
scriptures in respect to Brahman. Dualists maintain 
that Brahman is Nirguna only in the sense that He is 
uncontaminated by the Gunas of Prakriti, and that 
He is absolutely Non-Material in essence. The reference 
to Brahman in the Vedic literature as "beyond speech 
and thought means only, according to Dualists, that 
human thought cannot fully grasp Him and that no 
human word as understood by man is good enough to 
describe God adequately. Adwaitins speak of a Lower 
and a Higher Brahman, formful and formless, changing 
and unchanging, finite and infinite, existent and beyond 
existence. Dualists contend that the distinction of 
Lower and Higher Brahman is baseless except 
perhaps in the sense that the so-called Lower Brahman 
is the four-faced Brahma who is the first born in the 
hierarchy of creation. 

Sri Madhva says that a Brahman without attributes 
is tantamount to Soonya or Nihilism. If Brahman is 
ft^or, this epithet (Nirguna) is itself a kind of predica- 
tion. It is a contradiction in terms for the Shastras to 
treat of Brahman in volumes upon volumes of descrip- 
tive language and enjoin a study of Brahman as the only 
road to Salvation, and then wind up by saying that 
Brahman is a mass (artTf ) and without attributes, 

Adwaitins and Dwaitins are agreed in calling 
Brahman, Sat, Chit, Ananda, (Existence, Knowledge and 
Bliss J These terms, Adwaitins say, are not to be 
literally understood. Bliss, for instance, does not 


mean that Brahman has any feeling of enjoyment. 
It means only the absence of the opposite, a negation 
of pain. In this manner, whatever 'is predicated 
of Brahman in the Shastras, is to be interpreted as 
meaning only the negation of the opposite, and no 
more. Brahman can be thought of, they say, only 
as negations. This is a canon of interpretation 
accepted by most of the exponents of the school. 
But the negation or negative attribute is itself a 
predication How is it then that Brahman is beyond 
predication, if connoted by a negative- He does not 
transcend predication even if ' Bliss' and other terms 
are thus interpreted in a tortuous manner as excluding 
only non -Bliss, etc. 

To take up 'knowledge' which is mentioned a$ 
another ingredient of the Divine constitution, we are 
lost in a labyrinth of subtle explanations and 
distinctions. Brahman may be ' knowledge,' they 
say, but this knowledge implies neither subject nor 
object. Brahman has no consciousness as knower 
nor does it cognize any object, as known. Thus, 
though the term 'knowledge' is used, it is hard to 
see how Brahman can be a sentient Being or a 
knower in any sense. It has no properties 
appertaining to knowledge, no volition, no wish, 
nothing at all to make him animate and much less 
omniscient. The late Mr. T. Subba Rao, one of the 
most revered Theosophists and one of the most 
respected exponents of Adwaita Theosophy, says (at 
Page 93 of his 'writings') 'There is only one perma- 
nent condition in the Universe, which is the state of 
perfect unconsciousness, bare Chidakasam in fact/ 1 Sri 
Madhva's retort is that Brahman is, in this view, an 
inert, nameless, and formless, mass, and that it is a 
misnomer to call // a Chaitanya or Intelligence. 


To take up the last remaining idea of Sat or 
Reality, Adwaitins begin by classifying Reality into 
three kinds : 

i. The reality of the Absolute. 
ii. Phenomenal reality. 
iii. Imaginative or conceptual reality. 

The 2nd and 3rd kinds of reality may require some 
comment The world of sense-experience comes under 
the 2nd class. It is liable to disappear and vanish 
only upon self-realisation. Short of that stage, it is 
real for all practical purposes. The origin of this is 
what is called Root-Avidya, and this is liable to be 
destroyed only by the Ultimate self-realisation, 
realization of perfect identity with the Absolute. 

The 3rd class embraces what, in common 
parlance, is known as illusory perceptions. For 
example, the rope mistaken for the snake or the shell 
for a bit of silver. The misapprehension in these cases 
is due to an illusion technically called Thoola Avidya. 
The snake or silver, the result of this illusion, vanishes 
upon this error being found out by a true concept. 
The snake or silver is supposed to be real because 
it exists in concept until displaced by a correct 

Having premised three kinds of reality, they 
consider that Brahman alone is truly real and that 
the visible universe, phenomenal and conceptual, 
(Vyavaharika and Pratibhasika) is only of subordinate 
reality. They say further that Brahman is the cause 
of the Universe, both material and efficient. To 
account for the phenomenon of subordinate reality 
arising \ from the absolute reality, an Upadhi 
(conditioning cause) is supposed to act as a 

Vivj A moad View or MaVa VadA. 4$l 

medium. This is termed Maya or Avidya and this, 
it is supposed, projects or distils the/Absolute into 
Relation. It is Nescience or Illusion that brings 
about the visible, and the visual or ideal, universe. 

The world of individual souls is said to be the 
result of Maya operating like a mirror, and producing 
reflected images. It is a pecularity of mirrors that 
they are partial to the reflected image and affect the 
latter alone, not possessing any capacity to affect or 
influence the original. Thus Maya or Avidya produces 
no change in the Absolute, but produces myriads of 
individual souls. So long as the influence of Avidya lasts, 
the individual soul suffers from plural perceptions and 
is lost in Samsara. When the Avidya disappears, 
he is merged in the Absolute. 

Among Monists, there seem to be two schools, 
the difference between them being somewhat 
important. One section says that Brahman plus Avidya 
is the cause of the universe, in the sense that clay 
is the cause of the jar. Creation is thus a pro- 
cess of transformation. This school is known as 
Brahma Parinamavada. The summary quoted above 
from the advanced text-book refers to this theory, by 
adverting to illustrations such as hair issuing from 
a man's head and threads woven into a cloth beittg 
one with the cloth itself. The other section of 
Monists say that the world is only an appearance, 
that Brahman is only the background of an illusion like 
the rope or the shell which is misapprehended to 
be a snake or a bit of silver, that the medipm May^t 
or Avidya brings about this mirage-like panorama. 
This school is known as Vivarta Vada. 

We strongly contest the view that Reality admits 
of classifications such as has been adverted to %y 

£0 PAfcT ii— tcActflttag or ski hadWva. [cha*** 

Adwaitins as the groundwork of their system. The 
snake-in-the-rope is an utter figment of a deluded 
perception. It has no reality about it. It is a gross 
twisting of language to make out that such things are 
real. The so-called phenomenal reality which is 
predicated of the Universe is no reality at all. It is 
dammed that self-realisation has the magic of destroying 
the Universe. Upon such an assumed hypothesis, 
provision is made for a reality effaced by nothing short 
of self-realization. This is purely a conventional 
reality. It looks more like the symbols of a cypher or 
the code-words of a telegraph settled on a symbological 
understanding. Anybody may please himself by calling 
light by the word gloom or vice versa. It serves no 
purpose but to please his fancy. Sri Madhva says 
that a thing is either real or unreal, and that there is 
no third or intermediate alternative at all. He con- 
tends that no gradations of reality or unreality are 


Adwaita Vedanta builds up a huge edifice of 
speculation on the text dHj^fe " Thou art That " 
occurring in Chandogya Upanishad. It has become 
famous in Vedantic literature as the one text around 
which the controversy has raged the fiercest, 
Sri Sankara says that the text declares the identity 
of God and man. Sri Madhva says that it simply 
means that man is after the image oi his Maker, 
that what is declared is not identity but similarity. 
The larf|uage of the text also admits of the 
construction a<dc*wfa so that the meaning may be 
4 Thou art not That. ' The context fits in with this 
version too. How can the Vedic scripture declare 
all but Brahman to be unreal ? A Sruti declaring 

Vi j A ftfeOAD VieW of &1aYa va&A. *£$ 

all but Brahman to be unreal thereby declares itself 
to be unreal and unacceptable. A revelation that is 
unreal cannot be a source of knowledge and mucH 
less convincing. Sri Ramatiuja and Sri Madhva 
maintain that an interpretation which cuts the ground 
from under the feet, by being suicidal in character, 
cannot be sound and valid. They say that if all else 
be unreal, Monism has no legs to stand upon, for, 
ex hypothesi } there is no Monist, no Monism, no proofs , 
no Shastra, no study and no perceptions singular or 
plural, no Upadhi or Maya or Avidya, nothing at all, as 
the basis of the system, all these being illusory. 

In the Parinama Vada, which inculcates the 
theory that the world issues out of Brahman as hair 
does from a living body, or as a pot does out of clay, 
it is difficult to follow the argument about the unreality 
of the effect. Mr. Worseley points out this, in his 
Concepts of Monism, as a lesion. He puts it thus, 
saying, that cause and effect being qualitatively identi- 
cal, if Brahman be the material cause, the Universe 
being its effect must be real too. 


The great question for solution is, how is it that 
the pure should become or seem impure ? Why should the 
Unbound become or seem bound ? Adwaita refers us to 
Maya as the explanation of this problem. From a careful 
perusal of the Sanskrit treatises, we learn Maya or 
Avidya to mean a kind of ignorance, false knowledge, 
some kind of illusion or delusion. They describe it as 
a tangible something, not a mere negation or nbsence 
of knowledge. They call it *nwr. Maya or Avidya 
being the sheet-anchor of Monism, it is neces- 
sary to study it somewhat closely. In speaking 
of its composition and essence, Maya or Avidya 
is said to be a beginningless something , a positive Entity, 

2$4 ^ART U.— tE^CMlNGS Of Sftt MA&HVA. [cHa!>. 

The question occurs at once, is this something 
which is responsible for all phenomena, real or 
unreal ? If the former, Monism vanishes. Adwaitins 
say that Avidya is on the same footing of mixed 
reality and unreality, Anirvdchya as the Universe itself, 
which is a product thereof. Herein is a crux. 
Phenomenal reality is due to a single cause f viz., 
that it is brought on by Avidya. If Avidya itself is 
the result of Avidya, we are landed in a vicious circle 
or a regress us in infinitum. 

Secondly, if Avidya is a tangible something, how 
is it liable to be destroyed by knowledge or self- 
realisation. Ignorance as commonly understood is 
absence of knowledge. So the idea that knowledge 
dispels ignorance is conceivable, ignorance dis- 
appearing, knowledge steps in. But if both are 
tangible entities, one cannot be destroyed by the other 
unless they co-exist in time and space. How then is 
this peculiarly-conceived, tangible, Avidya, removed 
by knowledge, without co-existing with it in time 
and space. 

Up to a certain point, Monism yields explanations. 
It says plural perception accounts for individuality. 
But the vital questions are, why should the Infinite 
appear in a finite garb? Why should the Unbound 
be bound or appear bound ? Why should Maya or 
Avidya act thus? Why should the individual soul 
which is Brahman in essence be of limited under- 
standing and be capable of plural perception ? These 
and other kindred questions are not answerable. Is 
Brahman liable to change or not? If not, how is it 
the material and effecient cause of the Universe? 

They say that Maya is inscrutable. They say that 
not only Maya but the phenomenal world too is inscrut- 


able, neither real nor unreal, Anirvaehaniya. This is, 
as Mr, J. V. Kirtikar himself puts it, no. explanation , 
but a confession of the difficulty. This gentleman 
says as to Sri Sankara's position : " The world is 
changeable. It is a manifestation upon an unchange- 
able. Admitting the phenomenal reality as a part 
of experience, Sankara assumes that Brahman with its 
inscrutable Maya is both the material and efficient 
cause of the Universe/' The italics are Mr. J. V, 
Kirtikar's, not mine. 

If the Parinamavada be an assumption as conceded 
in the above extract, is Vivarta better? In the theory 
that the appearance of the world as an independent 
entity is illusory, merely a dream, who is the dreamer, 
and why does he dream? If it is replied that 
the individual soul is the dreamer, how is it that 
he is said to be the effect of the dream, that is to 
say, that there is no individual soul before the dream. 
The vicious circle is this, that the individual soul 
exists, before he misapprehends and dreams, operated 
on by illusion, and that the individual soul comes 
into being only afterwards and as the effect and 
result of illusion, 

In the mistake of the rope for a snake, there 
are the following elements, (i) misconceiver; (2) snake 
as a living entity in the world, unlike the horn of a 
hare, (3) resemblance between rope and the snake, 
such as length, coil, colour, etc. 

If Brahman is to be misconceived as man or 
matter, it implies that man or matter is an existing 
entity of the world, like the snake in the illustration, 
and connot be a mere fiction. There must be, besides 
some illusioning cause such as resemblance to make 
the misconceiver imagine like this. It is impossible to 


think of such a cause, to make him conceive of Brahman 
as man or matter. 

On comparing the leading ideas emphasized 
by the Sanskrit writings of Adwaitic teachers, 
with those laid stress on by modern exponents 
of Adwaita, the reader will be struck by a 
remarkable deflection and divergence of thought. 
It seems to me that Monism presented by Swami 
Vivekananda, Mrs. Beasant, and other great 
persons of note, is not the Monism propounded and 
inculcated by Sri Sankara, Bhaskara, and the authors 
of Adwaita Sidhi and Brahmanandiya. The modern 
tendency has been to round off angularities by 
attempting original interpretations of the basic tenets. 

Sri Sankara, for example, lays the utmost 
emphasis (i) on the attributelessness of Brahman, (2) on 
the Jagan Mithyathwam, unreality of the world (3) on 
the beginningless, positive, Avidya as the true 
creator of cosmos. Let us hear Swami Vivekananda 
for a moment, on these three points. 


The Swami says that the term ' unknowable ' 
in respect to Brahman means only that He is 
more than knowable. He says P. 276 (speeches 
and writings) " God is neither known nor 
knowable in this sense. It is something still higher 
than known ; that is what is meant by God being 
unknown and unknowable, not in the sense in which 
some people say some questions are unknowable 
and unknown. It is more than known. The chair is 
known ; it is a certain degree of that knowledge, 
but God is intensely more than that, etc., etc." This 
refinement of the Swami reduces Adwaita to the 

vi4 a mom view or mava ma$&< w#f 

view of the Dualists that Gad is the Being that 
cannot be fully known by any human mind ©r 


Sri Sankara and his orthodox followers are never 
tired of using the rope-in-the-snake and silver-in-the- 
mother-of-pearl as illustrations to explain their idea of 
Jagan Mithya. From this illustration, they deduce 
that Brahman alone is true and real. The Swaroi 
understands Jagan Mithya to mean that there is but 
One Absolute Existence; Vide page 188. "This 
world has no existence, Japan Mithya. What is 
meanjl, thereby? That it has no existence absolute^ 
It has not that unchangeable, immoveable, infinite, 
existence." This again is the position of Dualists. We 
say, most emphatically, that God is the only Absolute, 
and that everything else exsists in relation to Him as 
His reflected images, but none the less true. God 
alone is eternal, constant, unchangeable, and all else 
is fleeting, transient, dependent. The Swami does not 
seem to be far from this position. At page 388, the 
Swami says " As humanity, I am one with you and as 
Mr. so and so, I am different from you. As a man, you 
are separate from a woman* as a human being, you are 
one with the woman. As a man, you are separate from 
the animal, but as a living being, man, the woman, the 
animal, the plant are all one, and as existence you are 
one with the whole universe. That existence is God, 
the ultimate unity in this universe." Shades of Sri 
Sankara! Is this the sense in which all are one 
according to Adwaita philosophy? The Dualists do not 
hesitate for a moment to admit that as ' sat ' or existence 
there is oneness, i.e., similarity between God 
andthejeeva. If this be the true import of onmm, 
the Dualists have no grounds for disagreement at 


all* It is an insult to the common-sense of 
Sri Ramanuja, Sri Madhva, Sri Chaitanya and Sri 
Vallabha that they could not understand the words 
of Sri Sankara, but attacked a mere phantom of 
straw created by their own imagination. 


Swami Vivekananda expounds Maya in his own 
original manner. He virtually dissociates all notions 
of delusion from the term. He takes it broadly tu 
mean the riddles of cosmic existence. He 
refers to the thousand and one difficulties and 
problems of life and death, and calls the state of 
things 'Maya/ He refers to the contradiction 
between truths and beliefs, between professions 
and practice, between convictions and pursuits, 
and calls them all Maya. He says Maya is not a 
theory but is a Tantalus' Hell. He says that man may 
be said to know and not to know at the same time, 
that he stands between ignorance and knowledge, in a 
mystic twilight, in the mixture of truth and falsehood, 
half awake and half asleep, as in a haze, and this, he 
says, is Maya. At page 206, he winds up by saying 
"This is what is called Maya, this Nature, this Universe" 

Dualists understand ' Maya ' to mean Lakshmi, 
Prakriti, nature, wonder, delusion, etc. All these are 
dictionary interpretations. They understand the term 
mostly as equivalent to Nature in the context of 
creation spoken of in the Shastras. The Swami 
Vivekananda's view approximates to the same. 

Whereas Sri Sankara makes Maya a positive 
something, Messrs. Worseley and J. V. Kirtikar 
describe Nescience as a failure to perceive. This 

vj.] A £road VieW or maYa vaoA. 

negative description is altogether opposed to volumes 
of Adwaltic literature on the subject. 

Adverting to the lesion of a qualitative identity 
between the Brahman and the Universe, and to the 
inference of Reality Worsely points out thereon, 
J.V. Kirtikar observes that the Universe, according 
to Adwaita, is indeed real, in a sense, and that 
Worsely made the mistake of confounding Adwaita 
with Sounya Vada. On the other hand, Mr. T. Subba 
Rao laboured hard, in a series of articles in the 
Theosophist, to demonstrate the position that Brahman 
in the Adwaitic view is no other than the " Void tf 
of the ancients. He says (at page 1 1 1 of his writings) 
" In our opinion, the something, or rather, the 
nothing called ' Spirit ' has by itself no form or 
forms in either progressive or stationary states 
of development Can a 'void' be annihi- 
lated ? and what is pure, absolute, spirit but the 
void of the ancient Greek Philosophers? Well, 
says Lucretius, there can be no third thing 
besides body and void, for, if it be to the smallest 
extent tangible, it is body ; if not, it is " void ". 

Thus, while Mr. Kirtikar repudiates the theory 
of 'Void', Mr. T. Subba Rao who was in his day 
regarded as a great authority on Monism, tried hard 
to make out Adwaita to be identical with the Greek 
school of ' void '. Sri Madhva's view is that Adwaita 
is virtually Soonya Vada (Vide his monograph 
Tatwodyota). He quotes numerous passages of 
Adwaita which declare the world to be a non-entity 
and make out Brahman to be no other than the 
' void f of the Soonya school 

Lala Baijnath, Chief Justice of Indore, once spoke 
as follows about the true philosophy of the Up3ni##$§ 

$oo paw 4i.**ttAcmites or ski Hadhva [chai*. 

(Vide pages 63, 64, Vol I. Ninth International 
Congress of Orientalists, London, 1892). "The later 
Vedahtic philosophers of India, including Sankara- 
ttiatya have however pressed these teachings to mean 
that tfhe world is mdya, a baseless illusion, to 
bt destroyed by knowledge. This is, however, not 
ttie true philosophy of the Upanishads. In none 
trf them except the Swetaswatara Upanishad does the 
*Wdfd Maya, which supports the illusion theory, occur, 
and even in the Swetaswatara the word Maya 
is Used synonymously with Prakriti, and differentiated 
matter. u Know the Maya to be Prakriti, and the 
Lord of Maya to be Maheswara ! this Whole world 
is pervaded b}' power which are his parts." (Swet. Up. 
IV 10). To say that the objects of the world are as 
unreal, and have as intangible an existence, as those 
of tlreams, the great doctrine preached by Sankara- 
trharya and his followers, or that the world does not 
really exist, is therefore wrong. The Upanishads do not 
support a Parinama Vada. The process of manifesta- 
tion of the Universe is, according to them, a real not 
an illusory, process. When they say that all name 
and form are merely nominal, that earth in jars, 
pots, etc., or gold in every ornament is only true, they 
mean not that pots or ornaments do not exist, but 
that they do not exist apart from the earth or gold. 
The same is true of Brahman. The world does not 
exist in its present from and it does not exist apart 
from Brahman. It is not an erroneous appearance, 
as that of a rope mistaken for a snake, but it 
has no individual or separate existence. This is 
perhaps the great error into which later Vedantins 
have fallen and which has been the cause of their 
te^irtg* fcot guiding poplar i^lig ion. In fact, fihe 

and Sootra of Vyasa which is "that Brahman 
is that from which the origin, subsistence, and 
dissolution of this world proceeded", does not at 
all support the illusion theory. The Sootr?. proves 
that the world owes its existence and subsistence 
to God ; that it dissolves into Him. It also proves 
that the world differentiated by names and forms, 
containing many agents and enjoyers, the abode of 
the lruit of actions, these fruits having definite times, 
places, and causes, and the nature of whose 
arrangement cannot be conceived by the mind, cannot 
proceed from any but a Lord possessing the above 
qualities. " 

The basic religious ideas are mostly common to 
Dwaita and Adwaita, up to the limits of what the 
latter call the lower Brahman« Both the schools 
accept the principles of evolution in their outline 
and most of the details. The law of Karma which 
furnishes the motive force propelling the wheel of 
Samsara, is defined and understood by both, more 
or less, in the same manner. There is a great 
deal of similarity in practices and beliefs in the 
mundane sphere and in the worship of spirits and 
Gods. But at the topmost point, the Adwaitins 
place a something they will not define. At this 
point, they say that religion merges into philoso- 
phy. They bridge the gulf between religion 
and philosophy by what is called Maya. In framing 
their notions about Maya and the Absolute, they 
launch upon daring speculation. Herein imagination 
soars to great heights and gets lost in rarefied 
subtleties and self-contradictions, and violent 
tortures of scriptural texts occur frequently. 
To crown ail, they perform the wondrous feat 

462 PARt U.-~ tEACrflNGS Of Sfc! AtADrfVA. 

of making the extremes, viz., God and Man, meet arid 
merge, not in union, but in unity. This is a somersault 
of the whole fabric. Reason, common-sense, and the 
religious instinct, rebel against a theory that seems to 
undermine the foundations of religion and ethics. Sri 
Madhva strongly opposes this conclusion of the 
Adwaitins and the process of reasoning based on 
Maya by which this conclusion is reached. 


A C H I T, 

Jeeva, the individual soul, is the principle of 
intelligence that co-exists with the Supreme Being, 
but is thoroughly and absolutely dependent on Him. 
Another thing that is likewise dependent on the 
Lord is Achit or Jada, the non-intelligent Sri Madhva 
analyses and devides Achit things into three classes : 
(i) Those that are eternal, Nityas, (2) those that 
are eternal in one sense, and not so, in another 
sense, Nitya-Nityas, (3) those that are transient, 
Anityas, i. e., having both birth and death. 
Among eternal things, Sri Madhva counts Vedas, 
Varnas, and Avyakritakasa. The eternality of the 
Vedas seems common ground for all Vedantins. Swami 
Vivekananda explains this by saying that Vedas are 
no books but " the accumulated treasury of spiritual 
laws, discovered by different persons, at different times, 
such discoverers being Rishis." He observes further 
(page 370) "in and through the Vedas, the whole 
creation has come. All that is called knowledge 
is in the Vedas. Every word is sacred and eternal, 
eternal as the created man, without beginning 
and without end. As it were, the whole of the 
creator's mind is in the book." The permu- 
tation and combination of Varnas gives rise 
to words. The Varnas are eternal while words 
and sentences are liable to be created. Avya- 
kritakasa is space. It too is .eternal, and is 
co-extensive with the infinite. This is not to be 
confounded with Bhoota Akasa or Ether, for, the 
latter is a created thing and ranks among the transient 


objects of Brahmanda. Among the varieties of the 
second class, . Nitya-Nityas, we are referred to (i) 
Time (2) Puranas, (3) and Prakriti. Time is eternal 
in its primal from, but its sub-divisons in the shape of 
seconds, minutes, hours, days, months, years, etc.* 
are transitory and evanescent. Time is therefore 
eternal like a flowing river, whose running stream is 
continually emptying the waters in the ocean, while 
it is receiving an unceasing supply, all the time, from 
above. Sri Madhva holds that space and time are 
objects of perception to Sakshi, the cognizing organ 
of the soul. According to him, these are not 
the creations of the mind, as some western 
Philosophers fancy. It is Kant's view that mind 
is the source of time and space conceptions, 
and that time and space are therefore unreal. 
Whether traced to the mind or to the soul it is 
difficult to follow the reason about their unreality. 
Dr. Martineau observes "to trace the origin of these 
ideas to the very make of our minds, so far from 
giving just reason to suppose them illusory, affords 
the strongest presumption that they reflect the 
reality of things. Kant, on the other hand, having 
traced up our ideas of space and time to their 
spring in our own mental constitution, claims 
to have shown that " mind makes nature ", that 
nature is purely an ideal fiction of our thought, in 
vivid antithesis to another school of philosophy 
according to which, nature makes mind, i. e., our 
minds are the mere camera on which the world of 
reality throws its various and vivid images.' 1 While 
agreeing, in the main, that real external objects 
throw images on the mental camera, Sri Madhva goes 
a step further and holds that the conceptions of time 
and space arc so primary that it is Sakshi, the organ 

of the soul, on which the images of time and space 
are thrown, and that their reality is thus .utterly above 
suspicion or doubt. 

By the term Purana, every production in the 
field of literature, whatever the language may be, is 
meant. It is Nitya-Nitya, because it has birth by 
reason of being a production, and after it is born, 
abides for ever imprinted in Akasa. Prakriti too is 
Nitya-Nitya, for it is eternal in its causal, primordial, 
root-form, and transient (Anitya) in the shape of effects 
or manifestations. By the term Prakriti, we understand 
all that is known as matter and force, existing in any 
condition of grossness or fineness, whether atomic or 
superatomic, whether solid, liquid, gaseous, or etheric, 
and whether physical or mental. It covers the whole 
range of physiology, psychology and the natural 
sciences. It is the substance, of which the macrocosm 
and microcosm of the Universe are builded, 
including the body of every Deva, Rishi, Pitri, 
Gandharva, and the rest of the divine hosts. It is 
not possible to conceive of any unreleased soul, 
from the Four-faced Brahma down to an atom of dust, 
without thinking of Prakriti as the material of that 
soul's encasement, as the mortal coil or coils constitut- 
ing its prison-house. Its name imports all this, that no 
creation is possible without it, because it is the 
material cause of the Universe, while God is the oper- 
ating, efficient, cause thereof. Lakshimi is the presid- 
ing deity of Prakriti. She is the consort of God in the 
work of creation. She is the receptacle of the Lord's 
will, to conjoin souls with body and carry on the wprfcof 
creation* She is the only Being who is utterly untouch- 
ed by the sensation of pain, ft^rrept, free from flaWs, 
and coextensive with the Lord as to Omnipresent, 


Jada Prakriti is eternal like the Goddess herself. 
Our books have a very firm grasp of the truth that 
matter and energy are indestructible. They realised 
well that it is impossible to add a foot-pound of 
energy to, or take away a single atom of matter 
from, the eternal stock. It is Christian theology that 
does not seern to recognise this truth. Cardinal 
Newman observes " I mean by the Supreme Being, 
one who is simply self-dependent and the only Being 
who is such. I mean that he created all things out of 
nothing, and could destroy them as easily as he made 
them, and that, in consequence, he is separate from 
them by an abyss, and incommunicable in all His 
attributes." It is one thing to say that God is so 
powerful as to be able to make and unmake anything, 
and quite another to say that he does make anything 
out of nothing It is His will that he chooses to allow 
Jeevas, Time, Space, and other things, to be eternal. 
It is His law that the sum total of material particles 
and of energy shall continue a constant quantity. 
There may be evolution or involution, expansion 
or contraction, but no addition or annihilation. 

According to our Acharya, Prakriti is the 
ocean which, being tossed up by the Supreme 
Being, displays ripples, waves, and foams. It is 
Prakriti that undergoes agitation and exhibits storm 
and calm. The ripples, waves, and foams, now rising 
mountains-high on the crest of the waters, now break- 
ing down into the hollows and disappearing from view, 
are manifestations taking birth and suffering decay 
or death. If one thing characterises Prakriti more 
than another, it is the liability to change of moods, condi- 
tions, and forms. It is Prakriti out of which fetters 
are forged for the bondage of Jeevas. Being non- 

V«4 ACJilf. ghj 

intelligence by nature, it furnishes the Upadana, 
material causes, for building bodies in- the mineral 
vegetable, animal, and human kingdoms, as well as 
of beings above men. Its characteristic is to hinder 
light, to screen off knowledge, to lead the Jeeva 
away from the self and God. 

Avidya, the beginningless Nescience, that enve- 
lopes the Jeeva, is a form of Prakrit i. There are two 
kinds of this Avidya, that act as blinds to obstruct 
the soul's true knowledge. One is known as Jeeva- 
chddika Avidya, the Nescience that sits as a 
nightmare on the individual soul, preventing it from 
unfolding itself and obtaining self-realisation by the 
budding and blossoming of its own spiritual capa- 
cities and enjoyments. This Avidya crushes the 
freedom of the soul and prevents it from enjoying 
itself, the bliss and knowledge that is its own 
essence. The other form of Avidya is known as 
Paramdchddika- It screens off the Supreme Being 
from the Jeeva's view. It is the cataract hanging 
in front of the soul's eye to prevent the knowledge 
of God from reaching the soul. Sri Madhva holds 
that both these Avidyas have presiding deities 
of a Satanic nature, who are sent to Hell when 
God chooses to save the jeeva by removing the 
blinds. He holds further that these Avidyas are 
not mere negations of knowledge, but positive 
principles built of the substance of Prakriti. Rama- 
nujas do not seem to admit a positive Nescience, 
Sankarites believe in a positive Avidya. But 
there is a vital difference in the conception between 
the Madhva and Sankara schools. Sri Sankara's 
description of Avidya as to its function and as to 
how it disappears, reduces it virtually into a nega- 
tive principle. According to Sri Sankara, it is not 


God Whose grace removes tile partition. &vidy& 
Savours of the nature of mere ignorance and varnishes 
at tlie touch of Brahma^knowledge. But strangely 
efttMigh, he does not admit that knowledge and 
Nestience co-exist in time, so as to render it possible 
ior the one to kill the other, positive beings as they 
are both admitted to be. 

We may proceed to consider briefly some other 
^Well-known forms of Jada Prakiti— the forms that 
go to build up the macrocosm and microcosms of 
Brahmanda. By macrocosm we take the fourteen 
Worlds that are said to constitute the egg of the 
Universe, including the millions of solar systems 
of which the cosmos consists. The microcosm is 
the internal man built on the same plan and principle 
afe the macrocosm, for, nature builds everything on a 
'uniform plan and revels in unity underlying diversity 

Before we get from the unmanifcst Prakriti to 
well-developed forms of created objects, it is not 
unnatural that there should be a sort of transition- 
stage in which we find certain things which bear 
the hall-mark of creation but imperfectly. Sri 
Madhva calls these by the name of Asamsrishtanitya, 
i.e., imperfectly-created things. These objects are 
the 24 principles forming the basic components of 
all future creation. They are Mahat, Ahankara, 
Budhi, Manas, the ten sense-organs (to' be enumer- 
ated below) the five sense-objects, (sight, hearing, 
taste, smell, and touch) and the five great elements, 
(ether, air, fire, water, and earth). 

-» These 24 principles represent the transition, be- 
cause these exist in the primordial Prakriti in subtle 
Uorins as such before Jbeir evolution. Being derived 

V*4 *ctfif. $® 

directly from their own subtle forms without the 
interposition of other intermediate forms, they are 
unlike other created things, which also in a sense, 
exist in Prakriti latently. 

These 24 principles are the products of Prakriti 
subsisting in its three-fold division of forces known as 
Satva, Rajas, and Tamas. These three gunas (forces 
or qualities) are the first sprouts branching off from 
the unmanifest Prakriti. Sri, Bhoo, and Durga are the 
three forms of the Goddess Lakshmi that preside over 
the three gunas respectively. It is not easy to convey 
a clear idea of the three gunas by apt English equival- 
ents. Rajas is often rendered into repulsion, Tamas 
into attraction, and Satwa as the balance between 
these two forces. Hence Tamasic objects have a 
tendency to cohere, Rajasic ones to fly off, and the 
SStwic force to hold the balance even. Satwa is 
usually identified with illumination, Rajas with acti- 
vity, and Tamas with darkness, ignorance, obstruction, 
laziness, inertia. It is important to remember how 
powerful and how vast is the mastery of the three 
gunas over Jeevas. Sri Krishna declares in Geeta 
(XVIII — 40) that there is no class of Jeevas on earth 
and even in Heaven among the gods, that is left 
unassailed by these three qualities born of Prakriti. 

The work of creation proceeds from the 
preponderance of Rajas, activity ; the work of 
dissolution, when Tamas preponderates, and that of 
preservation and sustenance, by the predominance ©f 
Satwa which maintains an equilibrium. In the main, 
the tendency of Satwa is to illume the path, lead 
the J eeva upward and Heavenward, and enable him 
to compass his own salvation. The tendency of 
Rajas is to make him rise and sink, and keep hm 


roiling about in Samsara, give him petty joys and 
griefs, and -tantalize him midway between Heaven 
and Hell The tendency of Tamasa is said to be 
to pull the Jeeva down and dig his grave for him in 
Hell. This three-fold division colours our will, colours 
all our knowledge and emotions, and affects our 
speech and action. Whoever is anxious to guard 
himself from spiritual pitfalls, must keep a sharp look- 
out, to avoid the Rajasic and Tamasic in everything, in 
the food he swallows, in the pleasures he seeks, in the 
pursuits he engages in, in the duties he performs, in 
the attitudes of his mind, and in the spirit in which he 
wills, thinks, and acts. 

As already observed, the three gunas of disturbed 
equipoise, give rise to the 24 principles enumerated 
above. Of them, Mahat is the first form. It is the 
finest conceivable form of matter and energy. The 
body of the Four-faced Brahma is said to be composed 
of this principle " Mahat v alone. As the effect is 
bound to possess the attributes of this cause, Mahat 
too partakes of the colouring of gunas. But the 
most preponderating guna therein is Satwa, while 
the two others are so feeble as to be negligible. 
Mahat is sometimes translated into ' Intellect ' and 
sometimes as the * Universal consciousness.' The 
struggle is to convey the idea of something extreme- 
ly subtle and fine, something so vast as to perme- 
ate the egg of the universe — something which sits 
as a film that is so feeble as to be virtually 
non-existent as a resisting medium. Hence it is, 
that the Four-faced Brahma is so vast in knowledge. 
Ahamkara is the next form born of Mahat. This is 
a little more dense, though still very subtle. Thi$ 
constitutes the body of Rudra- Brahma the Four-foced 

VII.] ACHIT. jfl 

is the parent of Rudra, for it is Brahma's body, the 
Mahat, that furnishes the material of Ahamkara (the 
body of Rudra). Ahamkara is often translated into 
the individualizing principle — the cause of " I-ness " 
in consciousness. It is doubtful if this be accurate* 

Budhi is the discriminative faculty born of 

Manas is the mind, born of Ahamkara. Ahamkara 
is subdivided into (i) Vaikarika, (2) Taijasa (3) and 
Tamasa classes. From Vaikarika Ahamkara, 
Manas (lower) and the bodies of the deities 
presiding over the sense-organs are created. 
From Taijasa, the ten sense-organs are born. 
These ten are : — the eye, ear, nose, tongue, and 
skin, constituting the organs of knowledge (Gnanen- 
driyas), together with hands, feet, mouth (speech^, 
excretory and generative organs, known as (Karmen- 
driyas) organs of action. From Tflmasa Ahamkara, 
are born the five sense-objects, viz., sight, sound, 
smell, taste, and touch, and the five great elements, 
ether, air, fire, water, and earth. Among these inter se 
the following is the order of generation : 

1. Sabda (sound) 

6. Fire 

2. Akasa (ether) 

7. Taste 

3. Sparsa (touch) 

8. Water 

4. Vayu (air) 

9. Smell 

5. Colour 

10. Earth. 

Each succeeding 


iciple is created out of the 

preceding one. 

Thus the 24 principles or Tatwas enumerated 
above, are the forms of matter and energy composed 
of the three guns, Satwa, Raja and Tamas, which 


aire tfiemselves transformations of the unmanifest 

In this connection, a word of explanation 
regarding the five great elements may not be out of 
place. The word, elements, especially to those who are 
University Scientists, may be misleading. Perhaps the 
term 'elemental 1 may be more suited to the idea. 
Ether, air, &c. are primal conditions of gross matter. 
Ether is not to be confounded with space which is 
known as Avyakrita Akasa. Ether is the medium of 
vibrations forming sound. Air is not the atmospheric 
gas so called in Science Primers, but the medium 
representing motion in space. Fire includes all vibra- 
tions of light and heat, based on the principle of 
motion indicated by the term Vayu. Water does not 
mean the ubiquitous compound of oxygen and 
hydrogen, so well known to us, but includes liquids 
most comprehensively. Earth includes all solids. 

In describing the properties of these great elements, 
it is usually said that the property of Ether is sound, 
that of Air is touch, that of Fire is colour, 
that of Water is taste, and that of Earth is 
smell. It is a fundamental idea that the attribute 
or quality of the cause is transmitted to the effect. 
Thus Vayu has not only its own peculiar property, 
touch, but also sound inherited from its parent Akasa. 
Fire similarly has both sound and touch in addition to 
colour. The fifth element, the Eart, has all the five 
properties, including the inherited attributes. The 
inherent property of each element, that which is 
peculiar to it, is the preponderating factor, and hence 
it is, that it is spoken of as its exclusive attributes. 

The Brahmflnda, the egg of the Universe, is an 
Oval spheroid, the circumference of which is composed 


of the three gunas and the twenty-four principles of 
matter Within the Egg, are contained seven worlds, 
and seven surfaces, fourteen in all, represented as 
hatched inside a huge lotus-form in Narayanans 
Navel. The seven worlds are the following :— 

(0 Bhoor 

(2) Bhuvar 

(3) Swar 

(4) Mahar 

(5) J ana 

(6) Tapas 

(7) and Satya. 

The texen surfaces are :- 

(1) Atala 
U) Vitala 
(3) Sutala 

(4) Talatala 

(5) Rasatala 

(6) Mahatala 

(7) and Patala. 

The seven worlds are composed ot the five great 
elements in varying density and proportion, some 
one or other element preponderating in each, which 
preponderance determines the designation by which 
that world is to be distinguished from the rest. 

hus tabulated : 



composed of 




















The Talas (surfaces) are all composed of the earth- 
principles in .higher and higher degrees of density, 
the lower and lower we go. 

Turning to the bodies encasing the Jeevas, there is 
a singular similarity of design and method with regard 
to their make and build. A close study and comparison 
enables us to realize how remarkably accurate is the 
saying that the miscrocosm (internal man) is a miniature- 
repetition of the macrocosm. Wc are forcibly impress- 
ed with the symmetry of the whole architecture, so that, 
we are driven to think of the great architect whose 
mind must have concieved, and willed, the natural 
selection, combination, and gradation, so indelibly 
readable on every part of the great fabric. 

What we see of a man is but the Sthoola Sarira, 
understanding by that term, the gross body, the brain, 
nerves, and everything else, accessible to anatomy 
and physiology. This is the food-formed sheath of 
man, known as Annamaya Kosha Next inner to 
this, is the Sookshma Sarira, the subtle body other- 
wise called Linga Sarin* This is the coating that 
accompanies the soul in all its wanderings from one 
gross body to another. It sticks to the Jec va like a 
veritable leech until the final release. Sixteen 
things go to make up the stuff of this coating. 
These are the five Gnanendriyas (knowledge-organs), 
the five Karmendriyas (action-organs), the five Pranas 
(breaths), niz., Prana, Apana, Vyana, Udana and Sa- 
mflna, and the mind. The action organs, viz. hands, 
feet, etc., though usually supposed to'be external organs, 
have their motor-centres in the Sookshma Sarira, 
and hence go to make up the subtle body. This 
Linga Sarira of i6 parts (^fjrsPFSJT:) embraces the 

VII.] AcrtlT. £l£ 

sheaths known as Pranamaya-kosha, Manomaya* 
kosha, and Vignanamaya-kosha. 

We have an inner coating yet to deal with. This 
is Karana Deha forming the Anandamaya-kosha, the 
bliss-sheath next to the Jeeva itself. 

We thus see that there are three bodies, Sthoola, 
Sookshma, and Karana, embracing between them, 
five sheaths, Annama3^a, Pranamaya, Manomaya, 
Vignanainaya, and Anandamaya Koshas. 

The stuff' of which the gross body of man is 
composed, is also the component matter of the Bhoor 
Loka (The terrestrial world.) 

The composition of the Linga Sarira corresponds 
to that of Bhur, Bhuvar, Swar, and Mahar Lokas. 
The innermost sheath, Aandamaya, corresponds in 
make to that of the Jana, Tapas, and Satya Lokas. 

The correspondence of the mircrocosmic stuff to 
the macrocosmic, means that no Jeeva can visit the 
world for which his sheath does not fit him, does not 
acclamatize him, as it were. For instance, no Jeeva 
can enter Swarga (which consists of light) with a 
gross body of flesh and blood such as we possess 
here below. 

The coatings of man serve as planes for the 
play of his consciousness in various states. When 
he is wakeful {jtvjrat), he works on the Sthoola 
Sarira, and Annamaya Kosa ; when he is in dreamy 
sleep, he uses the Sookshma Sarira, covering 
the Pranamaya, Manomaya, and Vignanamaya 
Koshas. When he transcends dreams, and enters a 
state of dreamless sleep, (Sushupti), or one of trance, 


he uses the inmost Deha and the Anandamaya Kosha. 
The Vishnu Roopa known as Visva or Vaiswanara 
presides over'the wakeful state, and presents mental 
images to the consciousness of the Jeeva. Pragna 
is the Vishnu form that gives the Jeeva a contact 
ot spiritual bliss in dreamless sleep. 

It is a very common idea that dreams are in 
every sense illusory and unreal. In the Shastras, 
the dream is frequently referred to as an object of 
illustrative comparison. Adwaitins harp on this 
reference as conclusive of the position that the 
wordly objects and pleasures, thus compared to 
dreams, are illusory and unreal. Sri Madhva holds 
that dreams are far from unreal. The objects seen 
in this state are objects built of the mind-stuff. 
The sensations experienced during the wakeful 
state remain stored in the mind as impressions 
(Vasanas). These present themselves before the 
dreamer. If the man thinks that the objects, such, for 
example, as a pot, or a horse, that are dreamt of f are 
identical with what he had seen while awake, that is 
an illusion. It is the identity that is false. The mental 
images composed of the mind-stuff are true. That 
they are identical with external objects, is false. The 
comparison instituted in the Shastras between dreams 
and worldly pleasures and states, is often misunder- 
stood and misinterpreted. The Scriptures only mean 
that the Samsara and its pleasures are evanescent and 
short-lived like dreams. It is intended that man should 
not set his heart on the fleeting joys of the senses, 
for, the joys are transient like bubbles, and must soon 
vanish like the joys and images of dreams. 

The earliest authoritative works setting forth very 
clear notions about matter and its evolution are the 

VII.] ACHIf. ^7 

treatises of S&nkhyas. The theory expounded by 
them has been adopted by all later Vedantins without 
much of demur. I have in this chapter* indicated the 
outline with a view to draw attention to a few special 
points emphasized by Sri Madhva. Further elabor- 
ation seems unnecessary. The reader may peruse 
with profit the advanced Text Book of Sanatana 
Dharma Series, Banare?, for full information on the 



Who knows if, at any time in the history of the 
world, materialism will heartily acknowledge a 
defeat and surrender the field to theism and its allies ? 
Great teachers, prophets, saints, or sages, may drop 
from the clouds, may work miracles, pull society 
inside out, create revolutions in ideas, and drive 
thinking men to acknowledge God and the soul, still 
the moment they withdraw from sight, the shades 
of darkness close in, doubts appear and beget atheism, 
materialism, and what not. 

Western science preserves a dignified silence in 
the matter, and refuses to commit itself to any 
dogma about the existence of soul and the life beyond. 
Many a scientist of repute has refused to admit God 
and spiritual life, because these are not capable of 
mathematical proof. Some suppose life to be but 
a mere function of matter and thought no more than 
a secretion of the brain, just as bile is that of the 
liver. Others have defined life as a bundle of con- 
sciousness and possibilities of sensation and no more. 
Materialists have denied the spirit, and idealists have 
denied matter : both have often denied the soul, the 
individual as well as the Supreme. This war is as 
old as the world, and no useful purpose will probably 
be served by recapitulating all the arguments that 
have been advanced ad nauseum pro and con. 

No religion in the true sense of the word seems 
possible without a belief in God and the soul, accom- 
panied by a firm faith in the relation between the two. 


If man be no more than what anatomy discovers, mere 
flesh, blood, bones, muscles and tissues, stitched up in a 
bag or bags of skin, he is an ephemeral patch-work of 
dust, who returns at death to the dust whence he came. 
Religion has protested from beginning-less time against 
such an undignified view of humanity. Do we live 
after death? Or does the physical dissolution 
put an end to the individual ? " To be or not to be," 
is the question. Every thinker puts this question to 
himself a thousand times, and racks his brain for an 
answer. Prophets and saints of every land have 
answered the question with an unhesitating 
affirmative Revealed writings have echoed their 
testimony with a unanimous voice. Yet the question 
continues to be asked again and again. 

It is hard to believe that death is the end of all 
individual existence. It is hard to reconcile 
oneself to the belief that all the hopes and aspirations 
of life are dashed to the winds so summarily, just 
because the skin and muscles give way. The belief 
in the existence of the soul and its immortality, is 
almost universal, though positivist reason sometimes 
dislodges it. The wish is no doubt father to the 
thought. But the wish, the irrepressible desire to 
be immortal, is itself a significant, suggestive, circum- 
stance. As Max Muller states it, (in "'Life and 
Religion" P. 175): "There is in man an irre- 
pressible desire for continued existence. It shows 
itself in life in what we may call ' self-defence. 1 It 
shows itself at the end of life and at the approach or 
death in the hope of immortality." Why is this 
desire implanted in us, if immortality is but an 
unrealized and unrealizable phantom ? Every instinct 
that nature bestows has a purpose at its back. No 
appetite is gifted by nature which is not meant to be 


gratified for some providential purpose. The hankering 
after immortality cannot be there, unless immortality 
is there, embedded in the soul, and realizable at 
some time or other. Nature never makes mistakes. 
It never taunts us, never mocks at us. There is no 
reason to think that nature is capable of a flippant 
treatment of human instincts and aspirations. Those 
nations of the world, which dispose of their dead by 
burying them, believe in souls living after death, with 
the desire and the possibility of their establishing some 
reunion with the buried bodies. The Egyptian mummy 
is a remarkable tale-teller of this idea that the 
preservation of the corpse is a matter of immense 
importance to the departed soul, either for its continued 
peace and happiness, or for the accomplishment of 
some final reunion. Christians and Mahomedans 
bury the dead upon beliefs similar to this. 

The nations that believe, not only in the 
immortality of the soul, but in metempsychosis also, 
burn their dead, so that the departed soul might not 
linger any more about the cocoon-shell, but pursue its 
further journey unhampered, by getting into fresh 
bodies. Western philosophers too are gradually 
allowing that, in order to account for some of the 
riddles and problems of life, metempsychosis (the law 
of transmigration) is the only philosophy that can be 
listened to. 

In the very opening of his great teachings, Sri 
Krishna tells Arjuna to differentiate between the body 
and the soul. "Just as a person having cast off the worn- 
out clothes, gets other and fresh ones, so also the 
dweller of the body casts off the ^ worn-out bodies and 
goes on to other and fresh ones." 


Bagavad Gketa II, 22. 

This is the basic idea of Hinduism, that the soul 
is not the body, but is its owner, and that it travels 
from body to body in an almost infinite series of births 
and rebirths. The idea is common to Budhists, Jains, 
Nyayas, Vaiseshikas, Sankhyas, Adwaitins, Visis- 
tadwaitim;. Dwaitins, Vallabhas, and all the other sects 
that have claimed homage in India. It was not un- 
known to ancient Europe. The only serious objection 
ever urged against transmigration is based on the 
commonplace idea that if every soul has had previous 
births, why should it have no recollection of its past life 
or lives. But the problem has undergone a most 
searching scrutiny at the hands of ancient and 
modern philosophers, and has been discussed thread- 
bare in all its bearings by thinkers without number. 
We owe much to Theosophical writings for the flood 
of light thrown over the question by their lucid 
expositions on the subject. 

Memory is after all but a very subordinate function 
of the mind. When we go into the middle age, we 
remember not our infancy or our youth with clear- 
ness. We are unable to recall any but those mental 
images which lie impressed with some vividity by 
reason of some remarkable circumstance or associ~ 
ation. Many an idea lies buried in the sub-conscious 
strata of the soul It is not impossible that these 
subconscious ideas should be awakened from their 
repose, and summoned to appear before the mental 
gaze, by the operation of some powerful cause. Thcsy 
are there, imbedded deep, but not beyond reach. Hun- 
dreds of them present themselves before us in dreams, 


Hundr&fs :tno're wake up at the bidding of strong intros- 
pectiorr and meditation. Our books speak of Yogins who 
remembered their past with clearness and recounted 
their histories before learned audiences. Scepticism 
may treat this with sneer. But such abundance of 
testimony is not to be set aside so flippantly and 
light-heartedly as the sceptics would wish. Thinkers 
have felt the difficulty of accounting for instincts 
by the law of physical heredity alone. The infant just 
born, involuntarily opening its mouth and hankering 
after the mothers milk, is a puzzle, without the 
postulate of a previous existence and the theory 
of acquired experience. The contrasts and 
dissimilarities, very often of a marked nature, noted 
between the parents and the offspring, the genius 
born of the idiot, the criminal born of virtuous 
parents, predilections not traceable at all to heredity, 
have Compelled thinkers to resort to the view, that, 
though physical heredity may go some way, it is not 
the full explanation of man's individuality, his tastes 
and aptitudes, his talents and capabilities, his habits 
and predilections, and all that goes summed up by the 
name of character. 

If there is a God above, and He is just and 
merciful, how are the inequalities observed in 
the world explainable ? Why is one man poor 
and another rich ? Why is one prosperous, con- 
tented, and happy, and another grovelling in 
misery or poverty ? Why is one able and talented, 
and another idiotic or imbecile? The Indian sage has 
answered this problem by pointing at the law of Karma, 
and at the individual soul as the subject of its opera- 
tions. While the body is undergoing ceaseless 
change and decay, and while the mind and the senses 
are changing and decaying by constant wear and tear, 


the soul alone abides, as the back-ground of the picture, 
the indestructible, undecaying, basis .of life, the 
eternal principle which 'weapons cannot cut, fire 
cannot burn, waters do not wet, and wind does not 
dry, absolutely uncleavable and incombustible.' With 
believers like this, life is only an exile, a sojourn, 
while death is a release, though qualified, from the 
imprisonment of gross matter. Such a theory adds 
dignity to human nature and robs death of its terrors. 
Thus the first idea that has to be grasped at the very 
threshhold of religious study, relates to the existence 
of an individual soul who is the actor, agent, sufferer, 
and enjoycr, and who is, in the Vedantic language of 
metaphors, the string to which the pearls of sensory 
experience are suspended. It may shift its abode and 
vehicles ever so many times, but continues the same 
substratum of consciousness, which carries with it, in 
subtle and minute forms, the accumulated effects of 
K&rmic experiences and progressions or retrogressions 
in the path. 

We may next try to gather some ideas about the 
composition, size, and working of the individual soul 
as well as its inherent and accidental states and 

With Adwaitins, the soul is but a manifestation, 
a mere appearance. It is often referred to as a wave 
on the ocean surface of universal life, a mere foam on 
the crest of the heaving billows, ultimately subsiding 
into, and identical with, the ocean at the bottom. 
Hence, Monism does not assign to the individual soul, 
either reality, size, or a local habitation. It is 
therefore a point of vital distinction between Sri 
Sankara on the one hand, and Sri Ramanuja and 
Sri MadJtiva on the other, whether Sri Badarayaiia 

&4 PARt tt.—ttActtlNG$ Ot Stlt kADttVA [cHAP. 

asserts the Jeevatmas to be atomic in size, or 
predicates their all-prevasiveness. It is conceded 
that several* aphorisms of the Brahma Sootras 
lay down the proposition that Jeevatmas are 
atomic. Sri Sankara's interpretation is that this 
is only the Poorva - Paksha view, a prima facie 
objection, set forth at some length for the purposes of 
refutation. The other commentators assert just the 
reverse of this position. They consider that Badara- 
yana has laid down his own conclusion, the Sidbanta 
itself, in speeking of Jeevas as atomic. Dr. Thibaut, the 
great oriental scholar who has translated the Sankara 
Bhashya, (vide Sacred Books of the East, vols. 34 and 
38) has made some forcible observations on the point 
in his introduction. He considers that having regard 
to the context and the wording of the Sootras in 
question, Sri Sankara's is an exceedingly forced 
interpretation. " What here strikes us at the outset " 
he says at Page 55 of the Introduction, "is the 
unusual length to which the defence of a mere 
prima facie view is carried. In no other place, the 
Sootras take so much trouble to render plausible, what 
is meant to be rejected in the end, and an unbiased 
reader will certainly feel inclined to think that 
in Sootras 19 to 28 we have to do, not with the 
preliminary statement of a view finally to be 
abandoned, but with an elaborate, bona fide attempt 
to estabilish and vindicate an essential dogma of the 

Here is the parting of the ways between the 
school of Sri Sankara and the other schools. 
Hereafter, every step in the development of the 
systems widens the gulf. The initial conception of the 
individual soul being thus radically divergent, the 


fabric of superincumbent ideas can hardly be expected 
to show signs of identity or similitude. 

The souls being real and atomic, the next step is 
the belief that their number is countless. Sri Madhva 
says that there is no bit of matter in the universe that 
is not inhabited by a Jeeva. These countless Jeevas 
occupy every point of space as distinct units of 
intelligence absolutely different from one another and 
from the world oi matter and material principles. 
They are scattered everywhere in the mineral,vegetable, 
and animal kingdoms of nature, and even beyond 
these. It is impossible to think of any material object 
without some Jeeva or Jeevas pervading it, so that, 
according to Sri Madhva, everything in earth and 
heaven is a living organism, composed of a soul or 
souls encased in matter. He says in his Tatwa 
Nirnaya, M<^I^M^1^^M i: Ml[uHl^i^ : " Infinite are 
the souls dwelling in an atom of space. " He says, 
in his great work, Anuvyakhyana. 


" Flowers and fruits spring up in response to 
music ; some plants shrink in response to touch, some 
respond to feeling. Thus there is no object which is 
devoid of souls.' 1 Western science is gradually extend- 
ing its discoveries to establish the truth of this con- 
clusion. Francis Darwin, son of the great scientist, 
has collected proofs in support of the view that some 
plants have brains. He instances climbing plants 
displaying intelligence by feeling about with thteir 
tendrils as with fingers until they secure a proper 
hold. Captain Musgrave asserts that in the course of 


a botanical visit to Columbia, he came across a carni- 
vorous . plaqt, with, as he maintains, a brain, 
a nervous * system, and digestive organs. In 
support of the view that the universe is a 
vast expanse of animated nature with every atom 
of space filled up by Jeevas, the readers may refer 
to Professor Bose's remarkable volume entitled 
" Response in the living and the non-living", to find 
a corroboration of Sri Madhva s enunciation. Dr. 
Bose opines that every bit of matter, a clod of earth, 
a chip of metal, a block of wood, in short, every thing 
of what has been hitherto regarded as the inanimate 
world, is instinct with life, and answers tests of animal 
impulse and vibrations. He proves, by means of 
delicate instruments devised for the purpose, that a bar 
of iron, lor example, lives like an organism, capable 
of wakefulness and sleep, and has its period of acti- 
vity and rest, alternations of work and repose. He 
proves that it is capable of being stunned into trance, 
of being poisoned like an animal, and even of being 
killed. He made experiments before the Scientific 
Society of London in the presence ol Lord Kelvin 
and other leaders of Science, and demonstrated his 
theory. A delicate instrument that tested the life of 
minerals, showed its vitality by a record of vibrations, 
and proved the varying stages of its vitality or its 
death, at the administration of suitable poisons cal- 
culated to suspend its life, stun its powers, or kill it 
outright. This remarkable discovery affords a 
corroboration of Sri Madhva's views about the 
existence and presence of animating souls in every 
particle of matter, souls totally distinct from one 
another, and endowed with qualities and capacities in 
varying measures, though possessing all the features 
characteristic of souls as a class. 


In this connection, it is important to consider the 
relation of these souls to God, for, if souls be eternal 
verities, like God Himself, the conclusion may 
be jumped at that Jeevas are independent of God, 
If Dualism is vehemently dogmatic on any point, 
it is this, that the only independent principle in the 
universe is God, and that the individual souls and 
everything else depend on Him for their existence, 
powers, and attributes. God is the only eternity of 
eternities, the verity of verities, the soul of souls, 
the universal Animator. Spirit, matter, time and 
space, are eternal only from His will. He has the 
power to destroy them, to annihilate them, but 
does not choose to do so. It is His inscrutable, 
eternal will, to let them be eternal too, and abide 
as His colleagues, for ever, to work out his pur- 
poses and laws. All the souls lying within or without 
the egg of the universe as so many luminous stars 
suspended in space, are but reflections, in a peculiar 
sense, of Hari, the Supreme Being. They derive 
their light, energy, and all, from God. They will, 
think, and act, under his orders and laws, and are 
dependent entirely on His Grace. Permeated through 
and through by the Supreme Spirit, individual souls 
are, in fact, puppets that throb when He throbs, 
vibrate when He stirs, dance when He dances, just 
like a reflected image which faithfully reproduces 
every movement of the original. 

The reader may not run away with the idea that 
this is an opposite extreme reducing souls to nothing. 
In one sense, we are all no-bodies, surely, as there is 
but One Independent Being in all the Universe, the 
vivifier and lifegiver of all, the great creator, sustainei?, 
and destroyer. We pass through bondage and release 
under His Grace, But we are responsible agents all 


the same, with some freedom of will and choice, 
granted, to us by Providence. Though subject to 
His laws, the souls are free to choose means 
and ends, elect good Karmas or bad, commit 
sins or virtues, and acquire merit or demerit. 
The law of gravitation, for instance, holds us all in 
bondage and there is no escape from its grip and 
sway. It is the limitation and condition of all 
activities. But subject to its iron rule, we are free 
to choose and act. It does not compel us to move 
upward or downward or in any particular direc- 
tion at any particular time, We are, to some 
extent, free, but we are at every step and turn con- 
fronted with the laws of nature that set limitations and 
conditions to which we are bound to conform. So 
it is with the relation of souls to God. These are 
reflected images by reason of their dependence. The 
reflection is neither illusion nor a result thereof. The 
original and the reflections are both eternal verities ; 
only, the former is self-dependent and the latter are 
absolutely at the disposal of His will and mercy. The 
freedom and dependence enjoyed by souls is compared 
in Sootra Bhashya to the position of a carpenter, 
who is a free agent to some extent, but has to work 
under the orders of his employer. 

Monists harp much on the theory of souls being 
reflected images as upholding their own philosophy 
They put forward Maya or Avidya (Nescience) as the 
mirror that reflects the images, and state that, when 
Nescience vanishes at the touch of knowledge, the 
individual souls disappear too. Sri Madhva con- 
tends that Maya is not the Upadhi that produces 
the reflection, that the dependence of souls on God is 
in virtue of the soul's spiritual nature and essence, 
that whatever the principle that causes the reflection 



that too, is enternal with God, and with the Jeevas, 
and that no annihilation is therefore .possible of 
Jeevas at all consequent on the stipposed dis- 
appearance of Upadhis. 

Man, then, is a miniature of God but a sorry 
miniature and no more. There is similarity between 
the two, in that both are chits, intelligences in essence, 
and both are sat, existences, verities in eternity. They, 
are unlike, in that God is self-dependent and the soul 
is dependent on Him, that He is perfect and the soul 
is imperfect, that He is pure and the soul is sullied, 
that He is omnipotent while the soul is weak and 
feeble, that He is great while the soul is low. 
Helpless, as we are, by ourselves, God has endowed 
us with attributes that form part and parcel of our 
spiritual constitution, and that are entwined, warp 
and woof in the ver> framework of our spiritual 
nature. Of these, let us try to glean few ideas. 

The soul is a self-luminous principle which is 
both knowledge and knower rolled into one. It is 
consciousness, pure and simple, but a cogniser as 
well. In embodied life, it possesses organs of sense, 
but these are material and belong to its sheaths, 
The soul itself, apart from its sheaths, possesses 
prototypes of the material sense-organs, eyes, ears, 
nose, tongue, and touch, composed of the spiritual 
substance and capable of receiving and transmitting 
sensations. The spiritual organs are not different 
from the spirit itself. They are differentiate only 
for the purpose of expression in words. It is with 
these senses that the released souls enjoy un- 
told bliss. The individual soul thus possessed 
of organs in its spiritual essence, is capable of 
willing, thinking, and acting, has enjoyment and 


suffering, irrespective and independent of the media 
of its 3heaths and the appendages of those sheaths. 
Its organ ofknowledge is called Sakshi, the witness, 
to which the material mind presents all its impres- 
sions. It is the cognising principle to which is due 
the consciousness of " I-ness " that forms the basis 
of all individuality. 

Even God is not without limbs and organs, 
however startling the idea may seem to those who 
have always regarded the Supreme Being as a mere 
abstraction. It is impossible that the giver of all 
organs, the fountain-source of all sensory functions, 
should be himself devoid of any senses or organs. 
But the idea of the Almighty possessing eyes, ears, 
and so on, must be grasped with a due understand- 
ing and realisation of His Omnipotence. Whereas 
Jeeva is tied down, hand and foot, by laws out of 
which he has no escape, and cannot, for example, 
hear through his eyes, or see through his ears, 
whereas each of his organs has a specific function 
which alone it can perform being incompetent 
to poach into another's jurisdiction, God is absolutely 
independent of these limitations. He can cause any 
organ to fulfil any function. The Shruti says: 

" Without hands and feet, he is swift and grasp- 
ing ; He sees without eyes, He hears without ears/' 

With regard to the soul being composed of Chit- 
Intelligence, it is important to grasp the position of 
Monists in order to contrast it with Sri Madhva's view 
on the subject. The universal soul of which the indi- 
vidual soul is said to be a manifestation, is nominally 
said to be sat, chit, and ananda, but upon analysis, 
it is found that Parabrahman is not a knower at all. 

Vlllj .triE INDIVIDUAL SOtJL $$i 

It is said to be knowledge and not a knower, so 
that God does not and cannot cognise a . single object 
of the universe, and has no will, thought, or action. 
The Dwaitins protest against this view as 
degrading godhead into an inanimate luminosity. 
They refuse to bow down to a divinity that Has no head 
to recognise the Bhakta and no heart to save him 
The Dwaitins say that the universal soul as well as 
the individual soul are self-luminous principles, and 
that both are made up of Chit such as can cognise self 
and others by reason of their self-luminous character. 

So far, the points noted seem to be common 
ground for the dualists of all persuasion. I now 
proceed to touch upon a few notions which appear to 
be the distinguishing features of Sri Madhva's 
philosophy. Sri Madh^a holds that the countless 
souls of the universe are not occupying a dead level 
of equality. They maybe all souls, all chidatmas, but 
there is no equality in point of their powers, 
capacity, tastes, desires, hopes, aspirations and 
destinies. No two men or animals are exactly 
alike in features or countenaces. So, no two Jeevas 
are exactly alike in their capacities and character. 
From Brahma downwards, the Jeevas remain 
classed into an infinite gradation of steps, each Jeeva 
having its own worth and place in the scale, and 
having other souls placed above and below it 
Various are the operating causes of this gradation, 
some of them being primal and radical, while others 
are adventitious and accidental Sri Madhva is 
perhaps the only teacher who has worked out this 
tenet with relentless logic, taking his stand boldly 
upon authoritative scriptures, and speaking out his 
convictions without mincing matters in the least 

&)2 PART II,— fEAcMlNGS OF S&1 tiADtiVA [cHAft 

The reader might see that if man were but another 
name for God, it is impossible to understand how the 
unbound became bound, how the perfect became 
imperfect. Monists give only a single answer, saying, 
"We don't know." If man is but God and all men are 
equal* how does it come about that there is as much 
disparity and diversity in the world as there are 
individual units. If Karma be the solution of the riddle 
why is it, again, that one Jeeva should lean to bad 
Karma and another to good. Sri Madhva considers 
that Jeevas are inherently unlike one another, and 
each has his appointed place in the scale and his 
allotted measure of happiness, misery, or an alloy 
of both. 

It is said that the souls of human beings and 
animals pervade feebly in the systems, like the 
fragrance of a sandal-paste. The emanation is only of 
intelligence, of mere impressionability. It is not a 
very minute or delicate pervasion. Technically, this 
is known aschit-guna-Vyapti. The souls of Rishis and 
Gandharvas pervade, it is said, as rays, radiate from a 
flame. The soul is the luminous centre and the 
emanations in the shape of rays are tangible 
projections of light. This is known as Prakasato 
Vyayti* Higher souls than these, viz., Devas, 
are capable of a still higher pervasion. The souls of 
Devas penetrate bodily to some extent into their 
physical limbs. The spiritual organs themselves 
extend somewhat in the organs of their material 
body. This is the cause of the enormous power and 
strength of their physical constitution. This is called 
pervasion by parts. Amsato Vydpti 

It must not be overlooked, that among the souls 
of these three divisions, there is infinite variety of 
difference in the degree to wteich the ^per^aswoa 

Vlli.] ¥H£ INDIVIDUAL SOUL. j$j 

appertaining to the class can occur. The soul of 
Mukhya Prana, for instance, can penetrate bodily far 
into his physical bodies, much farther than any 
other Jeeva's can. So it is downwards in the descend- 
ing order. 

While on this point, it may be convenient 
to touch upon an analogous distribution of the 
Jeevas into Scimsas, (those having parts) and 
Niramsas (those not having parts). The idea 
is that Devas and some Rishis are capable of 
taking, and living in, more than one physical form at 
the same time, and work out the ends of Karma. Indra, 
for example, can, while dwelling in Swarga, live as 
Arjuna in the earthly world. He is capable of 
splitting himself into parts, as it were, and living in 
various bodies at the same time and accomplish his 
evolution in various, contemporaneous, courses of life. 
It is given to no human being to accomplish this. This 
division of Samsas and Niramsas is not to be confounded 
with the idea conveyed by the expression " Amsato 
Vyapti," lor, the latter refers to the pervasion of the 
Daivic soul into the body, while the former speaks of 
Devas taking on more bodies than one at a given time. 

Illustrative of the utter dependence of souls on 
God is the circumstance, that no soul, embodied or 
released, ever dwells alone by itself. It exists always 
in company with the Universal Soul God, the soul ol 
souls, dwells in the heart of the soul, as he does in 
every particle of matter, the perennial fountain of 
the soul's vitalities. When the Jeeva is in SamsSra, 
he and God are two birds perched in friendly 
companionship on the allegorical peepul tree, the 
former engaged in tasting the sour and bitter fruits of 
the forbidden tree, and the latter simply looking on 
with a jsmite, selfccafltaiaed and seii*satisfied. This 

£34 PARf IL^tfiACHiNGS Ot Ski MADHVA £cHA**. 

twinship can never be broken, so that the Jeeva can 
never hope tp break away from his in-dwelling mate 
and guardian to shuffle of the alliance to which it is 
indissolubly wedded. 

Nor is this all. With Sri Narayana thus dwelling 
everywhere, there is Sri Lakshmi, the universal mother, 
God's inseparable companion, His consort, friend, and 
servitor. Lakshmi is an omnipresent principle coeval 
with God. She dwells along with Hari. She is the 
presiding Deity of inanimate matter (jadaprakriti), and 
governs Satwa, Rajas, and Tamas, in her triple form 
of Sri, Bhu, and Durga. 

Besides this lordly pair, the soul has yet another 
principle permeating its spiritual frame. This is 
Mukyaprana, the Chief Lord of Breaths. Though 
Mukhyaprana is a Jeeva himself, he is the presiding 
Deity of Jeevatmas, and, as such, dwells in, and 
permeates, every other soul of the universe, from 
Rudra down to the lowest Jeeva. It is Mukhyaprana 
that presides over all the spiritual organs of sense, 
sustains, balances, and vitalises the activities of the 
spirit. The prompters of the soul are two, Mukhya- 
prana and Satan (Kali). These are the two polarities 
influencing the tendency of every soul. The former 
has ingress into the spiritual cells themselves, while 
the latter keeps out of the spirit's frame-work, and 
projects his magnetizations from without, to deflect 
the soul into wickedness. Mukhyaprana is the only 
Jeeva who is absolutely unaffected by Kali's influence 
and'is utterly beyond the pale of his magnetism. 

The gradation of souls is not an arbitrary or 
capricious conception. It is superfluousito mention 
that the Geeta, Brahma Sutras, and other Scriptures, 
afford ample evidence of the theory. The evolution 


and the involution of the universe is the basis of the 
gradation theory. When the creation begins at the 
end of Mahapralaya, or at the end of every Kalpa, 
the gunas, Satwa Rajas and Tamas, are stirred into 
disproportion. The 24 principles of matter, viz,, the 
Mahat, Ahamkara, Budhi, Manas, the ten sense-organs, 
the five sense-objects, and the five great elements, 
spring out in succession. The unfolding of each 
principle is from the higher principle into which it 
had in-folded over-night, i.e. at the end of the previous 
creation. One principle is said to be higher than 
another it the former came into evolution prior to the 
latter, gave birth, in a sense, to the latter, and forms 
the receptacle into which the latter involutes in the 
end. In this sense, Akasa is higher than Vayu (air), 
and Vayu higher than Agni, and so on. Everyone 
of these material principles has a presiding Jeeva who 
is deified by reason of his enormous powers and 
functions. The presiding Deity of Mahat (translated 
often into the great consciousness) is the Four-faced 
Brahma. He is the first born and the highest of 
Jeevas. Mukhya Prana is the future Brahma, the 
Four-faced. Rudra is the presiding Deity of Ahamkara, 
that springs out of Mahat Hence Rudra is spoken 
of as the son of the Four-faced, and next in rank 
to his parent. Thus goes down the flight of steps, 
conceived on a very intelligent rationale, viz., the 
order of evolution and involution. The gradation of 
Devas and men is aot an idea originated by Sri 
Madhva. The advanced text -book Sanatana 
Dharma has the following explanation regarding the 
function and place of Devas. 

" The work of creation proceeded by calling into 
existence, Suras or Devas <M(1ww : whose nature is 
action, that vast multitude of intelligent beings of 


tmrying power and authority, who guide the whole 
course of nature and direct all its activities, Devas 
have their place, in nature, as the ministers of the 
will of Easwara, ruling, protecting, adjusting, with 
intelligence and power far greater than human, 
but still limited. The name ' Deva ' shining, 
radiant, very well describes their resplendent ap- 
pearance, their bodies being formed of a subtle 
luminous matter, and hence flasing out light. They 
are concerned with the matter-side of nature and 
the guidance of its evolution, and all the constructive 
energies studied by science are the energies of the 
Devas. On their work, depend the fruits of all human 
activities connected with production in all its branches. 
Those who seek for material prosperity need their 
continual co-operation ". 

Among distinctions and cross-distinctions, it is 
enough to allude to a few basic ones, in order to get a 
conception of the lines on which the system has been 
worked out Souls are broadly divided into two 
classes, viz., i. those that have gained Release (Muktas), 
2. and those that have not secured it, i. e., are still 
in bondage, Amuktas. The latter class subdivides into 
two classes, viz., i. those that are fit for release 
ultimately, 2. and those that are not. The Jeevas 
that are not qualified by inherent nature to attain 
Release are divisible into 1. those that are ever 
bound to be in SamsSra, 2. and those who go from 
Samsara into eternal hell. The elementary treatise 
of Sri Madhva illustrates these positions, pointing out 
who are the persons belonging to each of these classes. 

The classification of souls is bassed on the fun- 
damental division of ail souls into three classes, viz., 
Sfttwika, Rajasa, and Tamasa, according to innate in- 


eradicable tendencies. The words Satwa, Rajas, 
and Tamas, should not mislead us into the supposition 
that it is the guna of the said names* that causes 
this division by its superimposition. It is the 
Jeeva whose tendency is good, bad or indifferent, 
that attracts the guna akin to its nature and 
marches on the appropriate path. There is 
something inherent in the soul which accounts 
for its predilections towards virtue, towards 
wickedness, or a mixture of both, which forms the 
pre-disposing impulse that determines the direction of 
the soul's activities, and its final destiny. Some souls 
are thus preordained by their inherent aptitude to 
attain Mukti, others destine for the eternal hell, while 
a third class must keep revolving under the wheels of 
Samsara from eternity to eternity, now enjoying and 
now suffering, in endless alternation. (Nityasamsarins.) 

No article of Sri Madhva's creed has provoked 
greater opposition or more hostile criticism than this 
tenet of his, classifying all souls into three eternal 
divisions. The eternal hell is a bugbear which is 
bad enough, without more. But that a section of 
innumerable souls should be bound to wend their 
way to that abode, with no possibility of escape, 
makes the blood of the benevolent philanthropist 
run icy in his veins. The theory of eternal damnation 
shocks the nerves beyond measure, and men refuse, 
be the proofs what they will, to accept it as beyond 
doubt. But a law of nature takes no body's nerves 
into consideration. The only question is, what are 
the proofs ? 




Sri Madhva is an uncompromising advocate of 
Theism in the fullest sense of the word. He opposed 
Atheism, Polytheism, and Pantheism, with all his 
might. His conception of God is one of sublime 
Monotheism, based on a strict interpretation of Vedas 
and the allied scriptures of authority. He is thus 
not only a Deist, but a Vedantin, though the latter 
expression has, owing to malice or misconception, 
been sometimes applied to the Adwaitin alone. The 
2nd aphorism of the Vedanta Sootras of Badarayana 
defines God (Brahman) as ' the One from whom 
the origination etc., of the universe proceeds'. 
The conception of Godhead in this Sootra is the 
fatherhood of God. This is the basic idea of 
Vedanta, that " Brahman " is the father from whom 
the universe has sprung, by whom it is sustained, 
and dissolved. The idea accentuated is that of 
causation. God is conceived as the cause of causes, 
the universal cause, and herein, is the condensed 
essence of philosophy, over the meaning of which, 
thinkers have wrangled furiously in every age and in 
every land. 

It is one of the elementary, fundamental, notions 
of our mental constitution, that every effect has a 
cause. All men believe in it and act on the belief. It 
is akin to the belief in an external world, to the belief 
in the veracity of our senses and faculties, to the 
belief in the trustworthiness of memory. There are, 
of course, philosophers that deny the external world. 
Berkley, for example, argues that we live in, and 


are hemmed in, a world of sensation and can never 
out-soar the world we live in. There is no guarantee 
he says, that there is an external world corresponding 
to our mental images. This is the idealism expounded 
by some Indian philosophers too, called in Sanskrit, 
Vignana Vddies. We cannot refute this theory by 
adducing syllogisms. It is enough to note, that all men, 
idealists or no idealists, act on the belief that there is an 
external world, and that this universal belief followed 
by action and conduct, is the best available evidence 
of the veracity of our senses. It may be or may 
not be that other proofs establish external objects. 
It may be that the external world is incapable oi 
proof strictly so called. But the belief itself is 
referable to a fundamental necessity, and -no argument 
can possibly make any idealist behave as 
if he did not believe in his house, his table, 
his food, his friends, his family, and so on. 
To take up another example, it may be impossible 
to prove the veracity of memory. The past cannot 
be re-called to bear witness to the correctness of 
our present impressions. But without memory, 
humanity cannot get on at all for an instant. No 
thought is possible without memory. No two words 
can be grasped, unless memory retains the impression 
of the first word and hands it on so as to be linked 
with the idea of a second word. Let the Atheist or 
Agnostic give us proof in respect to the external 
world or in respect to memory, such as he insists on 
in respect of the first cause. He is sure to fail. 

All argument, all thought, comes to a sudden 
stand-still, if we question the veracity of our senses. 
The beliefs based on this assumption that our faculties 
are reliable, that they are not playing a trick upon 
us, and that they are not engaged in a treacherous 

$4$ t>ARt 11.— TEACHINGS Ofr Ski tfADHVA [cHAP. 

conspiracy to delude us from birth to death, have 
never proved a broken reed, and this must be 
sufficient testimony in the nature of things. This is 
the line of argument that Richard Armstrong adopts 
withtfgreat fervour in his work " God and the Soul." 

Sri Madhva has spent many a chapter on this 
subject, insisting on this fundamental position. He says 
that the theorist who calls all his senses Mayic, is no 
theorist at all, because he cuts the very foundation of 
argument from under his feet. Every syllogistic 
reasoning implies postulates, and hypotheses. The 
impressions of knowledge derived through our 
faculties and senses are true and sell-evident. The 
current impressions of objects contacted by the 
senses in the present time are called Anubhavas. 
Impressons of the past, viz., memory, are called Smriti 
or Smarana. Both are reliable and self-probative, 
unless disease or disorder of the organs is established 
to account for delusions. Assuming then that our 
senses and faculties are truthful, it is needless to argue 
much to establish the position that every occurrence 
in nature has a cause underneath. We can 
conceive of no event or incident without a 
cause. The idea of causality may be incapable of 
proof. But every thinker is convinced of this, 
and acts on the belief. It is a psychological 
necessity to think so. If we proceed to analyse the 
notion of causality, we arrive at the result that every 
act, event, or occurrence, has a volition as its prompter, 
a will-force giving the initial impulse. It is not the 
axe that cuts the tree. It is the wood-cutter's volition 
that causes the felling. John Stuart Mill seems to 
argue that by causation we mean nothing more than 
precedence in time. Cause and effect are nothing 
more than sequence in time, according to his view. 

ix.] Some concepts of god. 341 

At this rate, Monday should be the cause' df 
Tuesday, and darkness the cause of light. &. cause 
is certainly more than mere precedence.* 

Nor can a mere non-intelligent principle, such 
as a law of nature, be an ultimate cause. 

says Sri Madhva ; Karma, illusion, aberration, time, 
attributes (gunas), or matter, cannot be the cause, for 
they are non-intelligent and incapable, therefore, of 
volition. A volition proceeding from chit-Intelligence, 
is, in the last resort, the source of every movement, of 
every action, of every vibration. 

It is not uncommon to say that the cause of the 
apple falling down, is the law of gravitation, and 
that of the railway train in motion, is steam. 
This is a loose statement of 'causality/ A law 
of nature is only a statement of fact and no 
more. Our experiments and observations are collected 
together, bundled up under a heading, and docketed 
with a name, as a law of nature. The law 
is only an explanation of the phenomenon, not 
the cause of the occurrence. Thus, Christian thinkers 
too have argued that the universe in motion acts 
under the impulse of a mighty volition, called God, 
inasmuch as the idea of cause resolves, in the end, 
into volition at the bottom. 

This reasoning, if correct, leads us to admire the 
definition of Brahman given in the Vedanta, for, the 
leading idea therein accentuted is that God is the 
Universal cause, that God is the will-force that accounts 
for the worlds from the infinitesimal vibration of the 
molecules to the thrilling march of the starry galaxy in 
orbits immeasurable. We are led to this conception 
of the first cause by the simple proof of our faculties 


which vouch for the truth that every movement has a 
cause and that every cause is volition in its final shap« t 
God thus stands revealed to us by his power as the 
cause of all causes. 

The aphorism under consideration does not stop 
with creation as the only function of God. Sri 
Madhva explains the etcetera in the aphorism by 
quoting texts to show that God is the father not only 
of creation, but of preservation, of destruction, 
government, knowledge, ignorance, bondage and 
release. God is, in short, the omnipotent and 
omnipresent author of all. In order to understand 
and realize the full force of the ideas implied by thef 
'etcetera' of the definition, it is important; to grasp the 
kind of theism that Sri Madhva holds to as the true 
belief in Godhead. Naiyayikas, reputed to be acute 
logicians, say that God possesses only a few qualities, 
only eight in number. Those Sankhyas who admit a 
Supreme Being, make Him an appendage of Prakriti, 
a mere hanger-on to help the latter in her work. Even 
among European theists, there seems to be a section 
of believers whose idea of God is somewhat peculiar. 
They say that God created the world at some time or 
other and set it going like a watch-maker setting up 
the hairspring and the wheels, and that he remains 
looking on while the worlds roll forward unaided and 
and uninterfered with. They seem to think that God 
may interfere on occasions with the course of nature 
by interposing a miracle, but, that otherwise, He 
does not signify His presence in nature. This is a 
narrow conception of His fatherhood. Carlyle levels 
his satire at this " absentee God sitting idle ever 
since the first Sabbath at the outside of the universe 
and seeing it go/' 


A higher conception than this is that God per- 
vades through every conceivable atom of the universe, 
occupies every point of space, ever*' engaged in 
creation, preservation, destruction, and all the 
rest. This theory is known in English writings as the 
" immanence of God " in the universe, a theory 
fervidly set forth by a large school of western thinkers 
including Wordsworth, Theodore Parker, and Carlyle 
in language often misunderstood to be pantheistic in 

Just as the human body is swayed by a will-force 
whose outflow results in human activity, so the will- 
force called God dwells in every part of the universe, 
smaller than the smallest particle and mightier than the 
mightiest. ( ^u»kurfij»*^is,dWg?^K ), sustaining or destroy- 
ing names and forms, adjusting the equilibrium of 
motions, conferring knowledge or ignorance, and 
regulating Samsara and Salvation. God is the 
greatest in-dweller in every heart, controlling the 
will-force itself of the individual soul He is the 
Antaryamin of matter as well, which term includes, 
in oriental philosophy, the ideas of force and energy. 
Not a blade of grass waves without Him (^T^RR^tdw 
nfaraflfo) and all is governed by his volition, (His 
Icha) and is permeated by it. He is present 
nearer than the nearest, directing everything. This 
is the idea of God's 'Immanence', the omnipresence 
that the Vedanta definition seeks to express. 

The next idea that flows from the definition is that 
o| a Personal God as the Ruler of the Universe. 
To some people, " Personal God " reads derogatory. 
Some people associate limitation and derogation 
wtth the icjea of a Personal God. They think that 
$ ttt&n-shaped God invested with human forms, what- 


ever the degree of magnification, is a conditioned, 
limited,, being, whom it is not worth while worshipping. 
But neither Sri Madhva nor any other theologians 
believing in a Personal God, set limitations on 
God's infinity. There is no intention to detract 
from His great merit as Infinitely Perfect. But 
He may be a Personal God consistently with 
being transcendent. There are two ways of 
looking at this. God is a personality inasmuch 
as He is a mighty will-force, or centre of will- 
forces. Man's personality has nothing to do with his 
imperfections, but turns on his being a unit of self-cons- 
ciousness independent of other units. The consci- 
ousness of selfhood and a self-determining will, and 
a self-contained capacity of thought, differentiates 
one person from another. Limitation is no ingredient 
of this idea, though, no doubt, our egoism, will, 
thought, and action are all little pigmies of strength. 
We may understand a Personal God, to be a centre 
of consciousness, will-force, thought, and action, a 
unit whose strength is beyond measure and beyond 
conception. It is no doubt the fashion to speak of 
an " Infinite Person " as a contradiction in terms. 
It is difficult, on close analysis, to find out wherein 
the contradiction lies. 

Sri Madhva absolutely refuses to make of God 
a non-willing, non-thinking, and non-acting, mass 
deemed Sat, Chit, Ananda, from mere courtesy. God 
according to him is Icha, Gnana, and Kriya. He is 
therefore the efficient cause of the Unvierse, 
bringing about effects like a potter producing 
pots out of clay operated on by instruments. 
He is not the material cause of the world, for, he is 
as different from the universe, as the, individual 
soul is from his physical frame. To hold God the 


material cause of the universe is to adopt Pantheism, 
which holds that all is God and God is all, that 
every existence is Deity and Deity is every existence, 
God and the universe being conterminous and 

The material cause is not the agent that sends 
an influx of will-power to produce a result. The will 
and its result stand no doubt in alliance, but i n 
antithesis Who can prove the bridge between the 
will and the action that follows, or the bridge between 
one consciousness and another consciousness, to be 
dogmatic about their coalescence or identity ? 

Says the Lord, in Bhagavat Geeta: " I am the in- 
dwelling soul residing within the heart of every 
creature. I pervade the -earth and everything born, 
and sustain it by my power/' To this effect, scores 
of authority may be cited from every page of the holy 
writings. Of God, it is said in Sruti : 

" He is the hearer, thinker, seer, ordainer, 
announcer, knower in detail, the inner guide of all 

t Jiii ^ iJl i rr ft ag^ II 

"Just as a man having a settled and definite purpose 
makes a wooden doll dance, or as a man sets his own 
limbs and fingers in motion* O King, so does the 
Almighty Lord cause these creatures to sjct H 



Taking ' Personal God' to mean a Being with a 
tangible form perceivable by the senses, it is still 
nothing absurd to regard the Supreme Being as 
possessing or assuming forms. Purusha Sookta 
describes the Lord as possessing a thousand heads, 
eyes, and feet. The Paingin's Sruti declares : 

<jfK*^si*nsrww ww hs-rwmw i 

" We now tell you of the Lord's being endowed 
with knowledge, mind, body, and limbs. He is of 
imperishable body. He is fragrance. He is radiant 
with knowledge He is of unthwarted prowess, of 
immense wisdom, of immense bliss. He is the Lord, 
Vishnu, Supreme, and imperishable." 

The book known a: "Sri Krishna" by Baba 
Bharati, contains some very forcible observations on 
this point. He sees no reason to think that God 
should be formless. He says that it is absurd to think 
of forms emanating from anything formless. Just as 
the sun has a form-centre, from which rays of heat and 
light emanate and radiate, far and wide, so, God 
may have form-centres from which sparks may 
emanate, pervading as much space as he chooses 
to bless. He may increase or decrease their number, 
or may make them innumerable. He may make any 
form as brilliant as he chooses, and subdue or increase 
its splendour to suit himself to his creatures. He 
may descend as incarnations on the earth, or may take 
forms beyond the earth in other planets or upon other 
planes. It may be that Divine Forms are not composed 
of material stuff, It may be that they are consummately 

ifc-3 sciiE concepts or &oa §tf 

pure and perfect. But this is no argument to prove 
that the Supreme Being is formless. 

The foregoing remarks lead us to the next position 
that God is conceived in the Dwaita system to be a 
Being full of attributes, of auspicious excellences, and 
that he is good and great, powerful and wise, just and 
merciful, intelligent and conscious, and so on, to an 
endless series. He is without a flaw, misery, sorrow, 
or weakness ; and the whole hosts of suffering to which 
mortal flesh is heir, are absent in their totality from 
his composition. 

The conscious author of creation, preservation, 
and destruction, cannot but be a perfection of attributes, 
if language has any meaning at alL gorjrfr ^frr— "Full 
of perfect attributes" and "free from flaws" is the 
burden 01 the whole refrain, a chorus that the readers 
meet with, hundreds of times in every book of Sri 
Madhva and his followers. It is an article of the 
creed, that every devotee should seize hold of this and 
lay it unto his heart. 

This description of God-head brings us into 
direct conflict with theories which love to speak 
of God as formless and attributeless. 

Dr. Thibaut's introduction to the Sankara 
Bhashya contains some pointed remarks on the 
Vedanta definition under consideration. He says 
at P. 92. " Placing myself at the point of view 
of Sankara, I am startled at the outset by the 
second Sutra of the first Adhydya, which undertakes 
to give a definition of Brahman, 4 Brahman is that, 
whence origination, and so on, of this world, proceed* 
What, we must ask, is this Sutra meant to define ? 


That Brahman, we are inclined to answer, whose 
cognition, the first Sutra declares to constitute the 
task of the entire Vedanta, that Brahman whose 
cognition is the only road to final release; that 
Brahman, in fact, which Sankara calls the highest. 
But, here, we must object to ourselves, the highest 
Brahman is not properly defined ' as that from 
which the world originates/ In later Vedantic writ- 
tings whose authors were clearly conscious of the 
distinction of the higher absolute Brahman and the 
Lower Brahman related to Maya or the world, 
we meet with definitions of Brahman of an 
altogether different type. ' That from which 
the world proceeds ' can, by a Sankara, be accept- 
ed only as a definition of Iswara, of Brahman 
which, by its association with Maya, is enabled to 
project the false appearance of this world, and it 
certainly is improbable that the Sutras should open 
with a definition of that inferior principle/' 

Sri Madhva, protests, as Sri Ramanuja did beiore 
him, that the Sutras do not proclaim a higher and a 
Lower Brahman, the one without attributes and the 
other with attributes. While speaking of Dr. Thibaut's 
view I am tempted in this connection to quote again 
his conclusion about the drift of the Brahma Sootras, 
found at page ioo (c) of the introduction. 

"If now, I am shortly to sum up the results of the 
preceding enquiry as to the teaching of the Sootras, 
I must give it as my opinion that they do not set forth 
the distinction of a higher and lower knowledge 
of Brahman, that they do not acknowledge the 
distinction of Brahman and Iswara in Sankaj&'s 
sense ; that they do not hold the doctrine of the 
unreality of the world, and that they do not, 

fX.] , SOME CONCfeFIS OF GOD. £4$ 

with Sankara, proclaim the absolute identity of tli6 
individual and the highest self." 

It is often urged that the Upanishads do not 
lay down a positive definition of God, but that they 
make a tortuous, laboured, endeavour to point to him 
by a series of negations. They say that God is not 
this, not that, and so on, and leave Him alone after 
pushing Him beyond the pale of all known objects; 
a definition usually referred to as the 3ft3ft Neti Neti 
description. The true import of these passages is not 
and cannot be that God possesses no attributes and 
that He is a mere negation For, what becomes of 
descriptions like this, that He is Sat, Chit, Ananda, 
that He is Atma, that He is Amrita, and heaps 
of other attributes. The true meaning is, if we 
are to get out of a most flagrant contradiction, 
that, whatever attribute is conceivable by the 
limited understanding of man, it falls infinitely 
short of the reality of the Divine attribute. If we 
think of Power or Wisdom or Justice or Mercy 
or Bliss, our notion is nothing to what God really 
is in these respects. No predicate that we can think 
of is worthy of the Infinite Being that is the home 
of perfection. 

A few words have been said in explanation of Sri 
Madhva's position as opposed to Atheism and 
Pantheism. A cardinal notion of his philosophy has 
to be mentioned that brings out his position in 
respect to Polytheism. 

Sri Madhva regards Brahman, who is no other 
than Vishnu in another name, to be the only independ- 
ent Principle of the Universe. In his primer 
known as Tatw&n&ankhy&na, wherein, he states tfoe 

£§0 t>ART ll. — tfcACHltfGS OF SRI MADHVA [cttA* 

categories of his system, he says that the two most 
fundamental . principles are Swatantra and Aswa- 
tantra, the 'self-dependent Principle and what is 
dependent on that. It is an utterly wrong notion 
that the great teachers and prophets of India ever 
worshipped a multiplicity of gods. This is a gross 
misrepresentation of Hinduism by the ignorance of 
Christian missionaries. 'Gods and Demigods' is the 
expression coined by English translators to convey 
the meaning of terms such as Devas, Gandharvas, 
etc. The Hindu scriptures do nut create a confusion 
at all between the Supreme Being and the host of 
gods and demigods, angels, or archangels, what- 
ever we may choose to call them. No doubt, Sri 
Madhva does not hurl perdition at those who worship 
India, Chandra, Varuna, the Bhootas, and the spirits. 
But he says, adopting the language and tone of Sri 
Krishna, in Bhagavat Geeta that the only path to 
the goal is a knowledge of and communion with 
the Supreme Being. 

It will be grievous misnomer to call this 
system, or Ramanuja's, Polytheism of any type. 
They hold that Vishnu is the only Independent 
Being. He is at the top of the series. He is 
beyond men and Devas, superior to them, infinite 
times multiplied by infinity. He is the 'One without 
a second* of the Upanishads, peerless in power 
and position, peerless in every conceivable quality. 
He is subject to no laws of Karma or of any- 
thing else. Everything else is governed by His will 
and wish. 

Cardinal Newman defines God in the same 
terms as Sri Madhva, as ''an absolutely Self- 
dependent Being and the only being who is such/' 


If the word 'Absolute' is supposed to suit Godhead 
better, it is only because there is confusiop about 
its import. Dr Calderwood says, 'the Absolute is 
that which is free from all ntcesaary relations, that 
is, which is free from every relation as a condition 
of existence ; but it may exist in relation, provided 
that relation be not a necessary condition of its 
existence.' J. S. Mill says " that a better definition 
of an absolute being could scarcely be desired/' Sri 
Madhva's emphasis on "Independence* touches 
the crucial point in the definition of the Absolute. 

Lastly, it is the fashion in some quarters to say 
that, if not Sri Sankara, Ramanuja, and Madhva, the 
Vedas at least emphatically support Polytheism and 
nature-worship. The following quotation from the 
Rigveda should be enough to crush this ostensible 
view. The first Mandala of the Rigveda pours forth 
a strain of rich melody about the One God above gods, 
the God Supreme of the Universe. It has been 
loosely translated as follows:— 

" What God shall we adore with sacrifice 
Him let us praise 1 the golden child that rose 
In the beginning ,• who was born the Lord, 
The one sole Lord of all that is— who made 
The earth and formed the sky— who giveth life 
Who giveth strength, whose bidding gods revere 
Whose hiding place is immortality, 
Whose shadow, death : who, by his might, is king 
Of all the breathing, sleeping, waking world, 
Who governs men and beasts, whose Majesty 
These snowy .hills, this ocean with its rivers, 
Declare ; of whom these spreading regions form 
The arms ,• by whom the fiqnarnent is strong 


Earth firmly planted and highest heavens 

Supported, and the clouds that fill the air 

Distributed and measured out ; to whom 

Both earth and Heaven, established by His will 

Look up with trembling mind ; to whom revealed 

The rising sun shines forth above the world. 

Wherever let loose in space, the mighty waters 

Have gone depositing a fruitful seed, 

And generating fire, there He arose 

Who is the breath and life of all the gods 

Whose mighty glance looks round the vast expanse 

Of watery vapour — source of energy 

Cause of the sacrifice — the only God 

Above the gods. May He not injure us ! 

He, the creator of the earth, — the righteous 

Creator of the sky, creator too 

Of oceans bright and far-extending waters'". 

These lines are no outbursts of nature-worship^ 
no fetish or idolatry of the elements and the forces of 

Herein, the Supreme Being is delineated with force 
and emotion as the universal ruler and father and 
the only Being who is such. There is no whisper 
about the plurality of gods on a footing of equal power, 
and co-ordinate sway. Here is omnipotence and 
omnipresence and omniscience as clearly declared 
as language can do it. 

One more passage from the Vedas and this 
shall be the last. •' Perfect truth, perfect happiness, 
without equal, immortal, absolute unity whom neither 
speech can describe nor mind comprehend ; delighted 
with his own boundless intelligence; not limited 


by space and time ; without feet, moving fast ; without 
hands, grasping all the worlds ; without eyes, all 
surveying ; without ears, all hearing ; .'without an 
intelligent guide, understanding all ; without cause, 
the first of all causes ; all ruling, all powerful, the 
creator, preserver, transformer of all things ; Such is 
the great One." Sir William Jones' Works (vol. VI). 




Sri Madhva's answer to this question is an 
emphatic affirmative. As interpreted by him, the 
3rd and the 5th aphorisms of the Vedanta Sootras, 
declare that Brahman is known through the Shastras 
(scriptures), and that He is not beyond knowledge 
and expression. The two aphorisms are ^lK^4lHc^lr^ 
and (2) ^t^ts^T^ ; "For, it is that of which the means 
of cognition is the authoritative word," (2) " since it is 
the object of perception, it is not what cannot be 
spoken of." Other commentators whose philosophy is 
different, interpret the aphorisms, differently. 

It is not difficult to quote scriptural texts 
whose apparent meaning puts God beyond the range 
of thought and words. Nothing is more common than 
the description of God, in theological literature, as 
something utterly unknowable. Man is limited and 
conditioned ; he cannot possibly know the ' unlimited 
and unconditioned'. This argument is fair enough in a 
sense. To say, however, that no devotee can have 
any glimpse of the Almighty by means of any sense 
or faculty, physical or spiritual, seems subversive of 
all religions. It is necessary to investigate the point 
somewhat closely, in order to see whether we should 
consistently with intellectual honesty, surrender 
religion as the figment of fevered brains. 

A great writer describes religion as meaning, in 
the broadest sense, the theory and practice of 
duties which result from the relation between God 
and num. Max Muller says " Real religion requires 

x«} l is god k^oWable? 355 

morte thaA a belief in God ; it requires a befifef in 
man also, and an intimate relation between God 
and man." Cardinal Newman says that 'neither 
a belief in God by itself nor a belief in the soul 
by itself would Constitude religion, and real 
religion is founded on a true perception of the 
relation of the soul to God and of God to the soul\ 

The Sanatana Dharma text-book (advanced, page 
337) is eloquent in describing the life of reverence 
which, when carried to its highest degree and 
addressed to God, forms the basis of religious life. 
"True reverence primarily expresses itself in wor- 
ship, and secondarily, ia treating with respect all 
ideas about God, all things connected with His worship, 
sacred places, sacred objects- Reverence being due to 
a sense uf His infinite superiority attracting love by 
virtue of His Supreme wisdom and compassion, 
it will naturally be accompanied by humility, 
the willing recognition of comparative littleness, by 
faith in, and therefere submission to, His wisdom ; 
and by devotion and gratitude responding to his con- 
passion, leading to complete self-sacrifice in his service. 
The steady cultivation of these virtues, the fruits of 
love directed to God, comprise our duty to Him/' 

The reader may lay stress on and note the words 
Reverence, Humility, Faith, Submission, Devotion, 
Gratitude and Self-sacrifice used in this passage. 
These fairly sum up the duties of religious life. Thus, 
no religious life seems possible, if there be no means 
of knowing or communing with God. If religion be 
mere fancy or frenzy, all this fabric in Vedanta 
literature will be only a foof s paradise. The sooner 
we get out of it, the better. 


' Herbert Spencer and the followers of his school 
are chiefly responsible for the popuir notion among 
the English-educated classes that the finite cannot know 
the infinite. He propounds the view that as the 
human mind can conceive only objects with ends 
or finality, the * Infinite 1 which, ex hypothesi has no 
terminus, is beyond conception. 

Max Muller has devoted several chapters (in his 
Work) "Thoughts on life and Religion" to prove 
that this theory is only partially correct. 
It may be remembered that the difficulty started 
by the Spencerian school holds good with 
regard to finite objects too. Sri Madhva instances 
the case of a man saying that he knows the Meru 
Mountain, as in point. We see but a small fraction of 
the Mountain, a tiny part of its exterior surface and 
say that we know it. Is Meru unknowable or 
unknown, because no man has seen all its boulders 
and forests, or its bowels and contents ? It is no 
delusion for us to say that we know it. Our perception 
of the Mountain is enough to prove its existence, 
though it grasps but' an infinitesimal part of its compo- 
sition and nature. We may be incompetent, because 
ol our limitations, to know God as he is, to know him 
in all His aspects and attributes, but the limitations 
are no hindrance to our catching a glimpse of Him 
and being convinced that He is. 

" Beyond the reach of words and thoughts/*! How 
variously has this been interpreted and understood. 
Atheists use it as a valuable weapon to destroy 
theism ; for a God that is beyond the range of words 
and thoughts, is unknowable and virtually non- 
existent. The sceptic and the agnostic are not slow 
to quote this scripture, and repudiate the basis of 

x.*| is 6oD knoWable?. 357 

religious obligations. The pantheist uses it as an 
argument against the assertion of a Personal God. 
Dwaitins explain it to mean only that God cannot be 
fully conceived and cannot be fully described, God is 
beyond words, only in the sense, that no word that we 
can think of is good enough for Him, or can convey a 
full idea of His greatness. 

The question is whether there is anything in our 
nature that points to a perception of the Infinite, 
directly or by implication, as a necessity, to any 
sense or faculty or capacity, patent, or latent by 
reason of which the Infinite presses upon our 
consciousness ? 

These are three avenues through which 
knowledge is possible to us viz., (i) our senses 
directly; ( srcur) (2) Inference for Reasoning (sigwpf) 
(3) Testimony of words ( 37TTJT: : of these, which is the 
avenue through which the Infinite can be known ? 

I cannot vouch for the physical senses cognizing 
the Infinite, nor can Reasoning alone land us to a 
Realization of God. Sri Madhva insists that the 
testimony of the Vedic word is undoubtedly the 
source of Divine knowledge. Of this, however, 
later on. 

It is important to remember that the expression 
4 Infinite ' is perhaps as old as the world. It is not 
an invention of modern times. The idea conveyed 
by the word has been known from the very infancy 
of humanity, from the first glimmerings of intelligence 
in the very dawn of human thoughts and aspirations. 
How did this word and this idea get into vogue, if 
the Infinite was wholly beyond the pale of conception ? 


It seems to me that the idea of the finite 
necessarily implies the Infinite as its background, 
and that the two ideas are necessary counterparts and 
complements of each other, and that the one cannot 
be conceived irrespective and independent of the 

Max Muller says : " with every finite perception 
there is a concomitant perception, or a concomitant 
sentiment, or presentiment, of the Infinite. From 
the very first act of touch, or hearing, or 
sight, we are brought into contact not only with 
the visible, but also, * at the same time, with an 
invisible universe. We have in that perception 
of the Infinite, the root of the whole historical 
development of religion." Again, at page 90, "The idea 
of the Infinite which is at the root of all religious 
thought is not simply evolved, by reason, out of nothing, 
but supplied to us in its original form by our senses^ 
Beyond, behind, beneath, and within the finite, the 
Infinite is always present to our senses. It presses 
upon us. It grows upon us from every side. What 
we call infinite in space and time, in form and word, 
is nothing but a veil or net which we ourselves have 
thrown over the infinite. The finite by itself without 
the Infinite is simply inconceivable." Such is Max 
Muller's explanation of the religious instinct 
implanted in man in every age and in every part 
of the globe. 

It is therefore conceivable that there lies im- 
planted in us, some sense, some faculty, that has 
the potency to express itself in some form Of 
religion. Such is the truth about human language^ 
for instance- Even if all the extant languages of the 


world, all the dictionaries, lexicons, and grammars, 
were swept away by some cataclysm of natpre, and 
man left to shift for himself and 'thrown back 
on his own unaided resources, he would soon babble 
and form a new language. It would shoot forth 
from the faculty of speech that lies rooted and 
imbedded in human nature. So it may be with 
religion as well. Even if all the systems of religion 
were swept away, the religious faculty in man would 
sprout out of the soil and rear its head towards 
Heaven, wafting new forms and formulae of prayers in 
its efforts to grasp and adore the Infinite. Variously 
has this faculty, the germinating seed of religion, been 
conceived and described in religious literature. 

Max Muller very often describes this faculty by 
the name of ' faith/ He gives to the word a peculiarly 
technical significance by identifying it as the sensfe 
with which man is endowed in order to perceive 
God, and by which, he is enabled to get an intuition 
of God. 

In a previous chapter, it may be seen that Sri 
Madhva inculcates the view that the Jeeva has 
spiritual organs of sense apart from its sheaths. The 
use of those organs highly etherial in their composi- 
tion may become somewhat intelligible in this 
connection. His theory of Aparoksha or God-vision 
is based on the idea that a communion of the human 
spirit with the divine is possible, and is the only road 
to the goal. Physical senses may be feeble, but the 
spiritual eye whose capacity has been sharpened and 
invigorated by a long course of penances and 
contemplation, can vision God face to face, and hold 
spiritual communion for a period of time suited to the 
capacity of the individual 


' The nth chapter of the Bhagavat Geeta contains 
a magnificent description of Arjuna visioning the 
Lord's Universal Form in all its glory, with the aid of 
eyes specially gifted to him for the occasion. Those 
who believe in the Lord's song as Inspired. Word 
would need no proof for the position that a qualified 
Bhakta may vision God, if he secures the grace of the 

We are told that, every day of our lives, when 
we go to sleep, we enjoy a touch, an embrace of the 
Divine essence. When we are wakeful, Vaisvflnara 
or Viswa is the form of Vishnu that presides over the 
wakeful state. When we dream, another form of 
Vishnu, Taijasa, keeps watch and ward. If we get 
beyond this, and sleep a profound undisturbed sleep, 
the Jeeva is in contact with the Lord Pragna, and gets 
a dip into the essense ot bliss. It is a foretaste of 
heavenly bliss, enjoyable ultimately in Moksha. 
Hence it is, that when the man awakes, he exclaims, 
" I have been so happy in sleep," having been in a 
condition absolutely free from sensuous experiences. 

To those who believe in Visvaroopa, in the 
possibility of Bimbaparoksha, and in the Pragna's 
embrace while asleep, there is the most forcible illustra- 
tion of God being perceivable, the God who is supposed 
to be far away and attainable by a wearisome course of 
meditative penances, the self-same God who is the 
nearest of the near, whom the Jeeva approaches 
whenever the fatigued senses go to rest, allowing him 
(the Jeeva) a brief liberty, on his parole, to visit the 
Father seated in the heart 

With the spread of science, a growing schopl 
of philosophers is, of late, transfering allegiance 


from what is styled supernatural religion to 
natural religion. While supernatural feligion 
claims to rest on scriptural revelation as its source, 
natural religion appeals to God as revealed in 
nature, in the power and majesty of natural 
laws. Richard Armstrong waxes eloquent over 
the Intuition of God excited by the sense of the 
Beautiful in nature. He says " To some, a sublime 
scenery, to some, quiet meads and streams, to some, 
the ever unresting sea, tosome f the marvel of the 
mighty stars, to some, a way-side flower, to 
some again, the mysterious charm of music or 
of song, to some, a poem, to some, the face of 
a little child, to some, a face beautiful with the 
story of a long and faithful life, has most 
quickening power." In this, he sees " an immediate 
and direct perception, an intuition, a seeing, of God 
by the immediate sensibility of the spiritual organ 1 '. 

The idea of a spiritual communion, evoked by a 
sense of the beautiful in nature has been the theme of 
poetical inspiration in all ages and countries. Tenny- 
son puts it in his famous lines : 

" Speak to Him though, for He hears, 
And spirit with spirit can meet ; 
Closer is He than breathing 
And nearer than hands and feet" 

Corresponding to the Sthita Pragna of the Geeta, 
the Aparoksha Gnanin of Sri Madhva, the self-less 
Avadhoota of the Bhagavata, the West has its 
introspective saint who is known as the Mystic, whom 
Richard Armstrong defines (God and Soul, Page 178} 
as " one who claims to see God and divine things 


with the inner vision of the soul, a direct apprehen- 
sion, as the- bodily eye apprehends colour, as the 
bodily ear, apprehends sound. His method is simply 
contemplating; he does not argue or generalize or 
infer. He reflects, broods, and waits, for light/' 
This description fits in with remarkable accuracy 
wi^h Sadhuim found in India and described in our 
books, wandering gangs of Ascetics deeply meditative 
and looking mute, deaf, and dull, more or less 
imbecile lunatics begging for bread, but, occasionally, 
open their lips to give utterance to profound wisdom. 

So far, about natural religion. No religious 
system has, however, contented itself with resting 
its claims upon pure revelations of nature, and 
relying on deductions of unaided reason, for its 
dogmas or tenets ; and Hinduism is no exception 
to the rule. 

The great body of scriptures known as the 
Vedas is the Revealed Word forming the bed-rock 
of Hinduism. God is, according to Sri Madhva 
knowable through the Shastas. He understands by 
the term, the four Vedas (Rig, Yajus, Sama, and 
Atharva), Bharata, Pancharatra, and Moola Rama- 
yana and whatever work adopts and elucidates 
the teachings therein contained. 

The orthodox view is that the Vedas are 
eternal works not composed by any auther, human 
or divine, and that there is no truth in the Universe 
not contained in the Vedas, 

All the Hindu systems seem to accept 
the view about the eternal character * of the 
Vedas, but each explains the meaning of it by 
understanding eternality in its own way. Among 
orthodox Madhwas themselves, one school goes 
so far as to say that the sentences and the words 
of the Vedas are uncreated and eternal in their 
sequence and order as now recited, and that God 
simply gives utterance to them and reveals them at 
the beginning of every Kalpa cycle. Another school 
holds that the Varnas (the letter-sounds) of the Vedas 
are alone eternal and that the sequence is not 

Modern tendency is to interpret the eternality of 
the Vedas to mean that the truths of the Vedas, 
embracing as they do, every germ of knowledge, are 
eternal and unalterable. 

In " Sri Krishna", Baba Bharati sets forth an 
interesting, orginal explanation. He argues that 
every movement has its expression in sound, and 
that the Veda is the sound-expression of the Divine 
attributes. As an illustration, we see that the 
sensation of pain has its expression in the contortion 
of the face and muscles, and its sound-expression 
in some from of 'oh' or 'ah' which follows the 
sensation in a boisterous or subdued articulation. 
Similarly, surprise, mirth, humour, and contempt, 
have appropriate sound-expressions, of laughter, 
ejaculation, giggle, or sneer. Hence it is argued that 
the Veda is the sound-manifestation of God,, and 
eternally co-existent with the divine qualities of 
which they are the sound-expressions. 

If Vedas were considered the production of an 
author, it would be impossible to rely on them 
without other authority to vouch for the trustworthy 


ness and omniscience of that author. Such an 
argument would of course land us in a regressus 
in infinitum, unless God were admitted the author. 
But a Veda is necessary to accept God, as an omniscient 
Being, the ruler of the world. This lands us in a 
vicious circle of logic, the two positions above 
mentioned being mutually inter-dependent. 

It was felt by Sri Madhva and other Hindu 
teachers, that no Dharma, by which religion and 
duty were both meant, was possible without the 
authority of the Self-existent Word not liable to be 
suspected as savouring of imperfection. It is the 
author that transmits his flaws and imperfections to 
his production and renders the latter faulty and imper- 
fect. The Revelation that is to unveil the Isis must 
be absolutely above suspicion, to effect its purpose. 
The foundation of Dharma can only be something 
like the self-existent Vedas, and not a human produc- 
tion. It is impossible to say that Dharma so 
based is not in vogue in the world. Such is not 
the testimony of history, of universal experience. 
Hence, it is argued, that, though men may have 
forgotten the origin of Dharma, its ultimate basis 
is not utility, not human legislation, not the caprice 
of society, but the Vedas revealed, or rather, 
unveiled, at the beginning of every Kalpa, by the 
creator, and transmitted down to posterity by Rishis 
JfBBfSR:: the seers of Mantras. 

Western Savants are never happy until they 
have labelled every Oriental book they come across, 
with some date, B. C or A. D., and have done with 
it. They have never been remarkable for adducing 
cogent authority for their conjectures. So, to Vedas, 
and tq other Oriental books, they have been ready 

St.] IS GOD tfNOWABLE £ $4$ 

to find some random date, relying mostly on some 
flimsy guesses, the object and the tpndenfcy being 
to bring down our ancient books to modern times 
and show them to have been within the pale of 
Alexandrian or Christian influence. Among these 
Savants, the superficial section indulge in a language of 
contempt too, representing the Vedas as ''Babblings of 
child-humanity," as " the work of primitive shepherds 
celebrating the praises of their gods as they led 
their flocks to the pasture." On the other hand, 
true scholars have given handsome testimony of 
an opposite character, lavishly and cordially. One 
scholar (Guigauit) says, " The Rig Veda is the most 
sublime conception of the great high-ways of 

Max Muller says, " In the history of the world, 
the Veda fills a gap which no literary work in any 
other language could fill." He says further, " I 
maintain that to everybody who cares lor himself for 
his ancestors, for his history, for his intellectual 
development, a study oi Vedic literature is indispens- 
able/ 1 The works of Professor Barth (Barth's 
Religions of India) are instructive on this point. 

Sri Madhva's view is (note ; in this respect he 
differs even from Sri Ramanuja) that the whole body 
of Vedas including the so-called Karma Kanda and 
Gnana Kanda and the Upanishads, treats of Brahman, 
and that every syllable is an attribute of God. He says 
that there is but one God, Vishnu and Vishnu alone 
treated of throughout the limitless length of the Vedas. 
It may be seen that various are the names used in the 
Vedas Indra, Varuna, Agni, Soma, and so on. It 
may also be seen that in adoring every one of them, 
the adjectives used are those applicable to the 


Supreme Being only. There can be no doubt 
therefore that\it is the Supreme Being alone that 
is worshipped throughout, under various names. 
The first Adhyaya of the Brahma Sootras, 
consisting of four sub-sections expounds this view 
that the various names used in the Vedic literature 
denote and connote Brahman alone, as the context 
and other canons of construction unmistakably 
establish in every case. This is further rendered 
clear by the explanation that the quality making 
Indra, for instance, what he is, viz., Power (Aiswarya) 
can possibly apply primarily to the Supreme Being 
alone who is of limitless power, and only secondarily, 
to Indra and others of limited power. So with other 
attributes misappropriated by inferior gods and men. 
Therefore the excellences referred to in the Vedas, 
are, all of them without any exception, predicated only 
of Brahman alias Vishnu. Such, in brief, is the broad 
summary of the first Adhyaya of the Badarayana 

To all those who are anxious to secure Release, 
freedom from the bondage of births and deaths, 
the injunction of the Vedas runs thus : 

" Brahman should be seen, should be heard, should be 
cogitated and doted upon". Such is the command, and 
the command emphatically implies that God is 



Whence are we and whither do we tend ? This is 
a question that has agitated innumerable minds in the 
past, and it is bound to upset minds without number in 
the future. It has robbed many a thinker of peace of 
mind, and driven many more to the verge of despair. 

In the life of Percy Bysshe Shelley the great poet, 
it is recorded that he tried, once at least, to commit 
suicide, out of an irrepressible curiosity to find out 
what it is that lies beyond death. He was one of those 
great mystics of the world who gave up their thoughts 
to ideation, who were madly agitated over the riddle of 
life, and who worried themselves incessantly about 
the origin of man and his destination. He had every 
blessing that should make up the fill of man's happi- 
ness, a genius that was the envy of Europe, a wife 
that strewed his life with love and roses, and friends 
who extended to him a platonic devotion. Yet he 
was not happy. He was philosophising deeply and 
profoundly over the question ''whence are we, whither 
do we tend ? 

What is the meaning of this, that a thinker 
should go so mad as to attempt suicide for finding 
out the why and whither of man. If we reflect 
over it, we may realise that there was, after all, 
nothing abnormal about Shelley. Every one of us is 
sometimes deeply vexed about the strange mysteries 
amongst which we live, move, and have our being. 


The profoundest study of man is himself, so absorbing 
is the interest it is calculated to evoke. 

Can unaided reason solve the mystery? 
I fear not. It seems to me that nothing short 
of Inspiration or Revelation can lift the veil. 
It is not given to Reason alone unaided by the 
Inspired Word to draw the veil and discover the bright 
face of true knowledge. None but an Avatar or 
Messiah can bring peace and solace to man, perplexed, 
as he is, by the conflicting currents of speculating 
thought. Sri Madhva was an Avatar, and his answer 
to the great question satisfied thousands of men in his 
day, and his message was handed down as a priceless 
legacy to posterity. He conceived of God's relation to 
man and the universe in a manner that appealed home 
to common-sense and stood the test of religious life. 
In his system, soul and matter (Jeeva and Prakriti) 
are parallel lines that never merge in one another. 
God is the string that runs through both, and is 
the great agent that connects them and dissociates 
them, at his pleasure. There is no merger or 
unification between God, Jeeva, and the Achit 
principles. What we understand by creation, then, is 
that God furnishes to each Jeeva a coating of gross 
matter and launches him on the great ocean to 
fulfil the great journey. He gives each Jeeva a 
chance of compassing his Salvation by repeated 
incarnations. God's creation does not mean bringing 
something out of nothing, but yoking the soul 
to a form of matter and sending him about his 

During an inconceivably long period spoken 
of as Maha Pralaya, the great dissolution, the 
universe lies imbedded in a subtle primordial chaos 


in the womb of Narayana. It is the night when 
all activity, all animation, lies suspended, in the 
Father's womb, a night as long m duration as 
the day of 36,000 Kalpas during which the universe 
was in active motion. During this long night, all 
name and form remain submerged, the three gunas 
lie quiet from balanced equilibrium, and all effects 
sleep in the causal condition. It is a thorough calm 
of the Unmanifest sleeping away in Narayana. It is the 
period of incubation and of much-needed rest, of pre* 
paration for the next great out-put of creation. Not a 
soul, not an atom, shoots up its head, no Brahma, no 
Indra, none of the gods, is in evidence. All, all, is in 
trance ; the senses utterly inactive, and matter utterly 
motionless; the totality of Jeevas is in a state of 
special contact with the Lord, knowing no pain, no 
misery, at all. The Rig Veda, Mandala X No. 129, 
describes the state in the following words: 

" In the beginning there was 
Neither Non-Being, nor Being- 
No realm of air, nor sky beyond ; 
What then enshrouded all things ? 
Where were they ? 
What gave them shelter ? 
Was the ocean there, 
The unfathomable depths of water ? 
Death was not there, nor aught immortal 
No sign was there, day and night divider, 
One Being only, the Existent One, 
Breathed calmly, all containing 
Nought else than Him was there 
Nought else, above, beyond, 


Deep gloom was there, all concealed in darkness 
Shrouded in nothingness, the One lay void 
A chaos, tormless, indiscriminate." 

At the approach of dawn, a slight stir disturbs the 
calm as a preparation for the succeeding day. 
Would that the Pralaya, the calm, lasted for ever ! 
For, the stir of the dawn means the prelude to another 
long waking day of millions upon millions of 
years. When it is day-break, it is time for the 
Jeeva to return to consciousness, and start with 
all his kitten of buried experiences tied to 
his back. It is the signal for him to don a fresh 
garment in the shape of a new body, and march out of 
the Father's womb about his business as a wanderer 
(Samsarin) upon the great journey of life and death. 
Weary with the load he has to carry, sick at heart 
with the recollection of the past that knows no begin- 
ning, the unreleased Jeeva should prepare himself, 
there being no other alternative, to play his part in 
the economy of animated nature. 

When the great tortoise involuntarily projects its 
limbs out of the shell or draws them in, the limbs them- 
selves can raise no protest and offer no resistance. 
When the spider puts forth its coil of thread and 
draws it in at its pleasure, the thread itself cannot set 
up a rebellion. This is just what is happening. 

" As the spider sends forth and retracts its web, as in 
the earth, herbs grow, as from a man the hairs of the 
head and body, so from the indestructible, the 
universe becomes." When the night is drawing to a 
close, a chorus resounds the praise of the Lord, set up 


by Lakshmi. The Veda hymns His greatness, praises 
His name and sports, and prays unto Him to ^wake. 

The Lord wills again, " I will multiply ", and sets 
the ball rolling. With Him, will is effort, effort is 
action, and action is accomplishment. He engages 
in creation, sustenance, and dissolution, with 
no end in view, no purpose to achieve, no gain or 
benefit to derive. His work entails no loss of energy, 
no exertion at all, in the out-put. It is spontaneity 
pure and simple, compared to the exuberant sports 
of a lunatic, his inebriated song and gambols provoked 
by a simple overflow of spirits. The Brahma Sootra 
says ll^t^R5^T3I%^5^ll " It is mere sport, as we 
often observe in the world." 

At the will to multiply, the Lord takes form as Vasu- 
deva. Then he becomes Sankarashana, then Prady- 
umna, and then, Anirudha. The Chaos of Pralaya 
emerges from nebulosity slowly, and by degrees gets 
filled with shapes more and more tangible, under the 
stress and touch of the Lord's Avatars. By the time 
that Anirudha begins his work, creation has assumed a 
shape. Hence, it is called a Sthoolamsti. Out of 
Anirudha s navel, a lotus emanates over the waters 
and opens its petals to discover the four-faced 
Brahma. There he sits on the lotus, stunned by 
the situation, his memory a blank, looking about 
vacantly, and not realising or recollecting anything 
for the moment. An unseen voice bids him 
at this juncture to meditate. 'Tapa' Tapa' is the 
voice that sets him a-thinking. He at once 
plunges into the waters and meditates. His 
search is rewarded at last by the vision of the 
great Purusha appearing before him. This interview 
is the starting point of further creation. The four-faced 


JJrahma is bidden to engage in creation and evolve 
forms in repetition of those that lived and died during 
the previous Mahakalpa. 

The same ideas are set forth in Manu in the 
following manner ; 

" Having meditated, and desiring to produce 
various things from His own body, He first put 
forth waters, and in these, He placed the seed. That 
became a golden egg equal in radiance to the thousand- 
eyed sun. In that, was born Brahma himself, the 
grand sire of all the worlds/' 

The outline of material evolution has been explained 
in a previous chapter. It is therefore needless to go 
into those details here. Our purpose now is to 
follow the fortune of the outgoing Jeeva and gather 
together some ideas about his tour, what heckles and 
fetters him, what are the conditions of his bondage 
and of his restricted liberty, what are his equipments, 
and what the purpose of his wandering. 

During the whole of the Mahfipralaya, the un- 
released soul lay asleep like a foot-ball after a 
vigorous game. He lay quiescent with the myriads 
of bruises caused by the kicks received in the 
countless births already suffered, the quintessence of 
Karmic experiences that knocked and dashed him 
wildly about from pillar to post, times without number. 
He is now kicked out again into the field to receive 


fresh knocks and obtain new shapes, and try to get to 
the goal, if possible. 

The reader may conceive for a* moment the 
vastness of the cycle that I have been calling as day 
and night. It is the huge wheel of time m^-bHK wielded 
by Narayana, It consists of ioo years of Brahma's 
life. Each year thereof consists of 360 days, and each 
day consists of Krita, Treta, Dwapara, and Kali ages, 
added together and multiplied 994 times. Resolved 
into human years, 

Krita Yuga lasts for ... 1,72,8000 years 

Treta 1,08,0000 years 

Dwapara 72,0000 years 

Kali 36,0000 years 

3,88,8000 years 

making up three millions, 888 thousand years. The 
four Yugas taken together constitute a single age of 
the gods. 71 Divine ages make up a Manwantara. 
Fourteen Manwantaras make up a Kalpa. This is 
but a day for Brahma, the four-faced. 100 years or 
36000 Kalpas result in a Mahapralaya of equal 

Indras, Manus, and Rishis, change at the end 
of every Manwantara. Deluges of minor destruction 
take place at the end of every Kalpa (14 Manwantaras). 
It is these deluges that are vaguely remembered by 
almost every nation on the globe. It is to this that 
tradition refers, a tradition found recorded among 
Egyptians, Jews, Christians, Hindus, and Asiatics 
generally, telling a story of Noah's ark or some vessel 


Saved in the floods with archtypes of creation. Hindu 
books give elaborate accounts of these interim deluges. 
It is then that Vishnu descended as Matsya, the great 
fish, and saved King Satyavrata in a vessel. 

It may thus be seen that the great wheel of 
Mahapralaya and Maha Kalpa has millions of smaller 
ones, wheel within wheel, rotating at the propulsion 
of the Supreme Spirit in the centre of all, the 
processes of nature taking place right through in 
rotations. For instance, to begin with*, the day known 
to us is measured by the earth revolving once 
round its axis and returning to the point it started 
from. The month represents another such process, 
with reference to the moon's circuit. So does the 
year, with reference to the earth going round the sun- 
It is throughout the same orderly rotation, a given 
point starting off and coming round to its original 
position in a given time. The seed of a tree sprouts, 
grows, fructifies, and reverts to be a seed. The rain- 
drop descends to the ocean, evaporates, and becomes 
a rain drop in the clouds again, to descend once more. 
The mountain gets ground, particle by particle, into 
fine sand, reaches the ocean, and is thrown up, 
solidified again, by a commotion in the bowels of the 
earth. So ; man too starts out of germs, and goes 
back to germs. What we call death or destruction 
is the reversion, the transformation, into the causal 

Upon the wheels big and small in ceaseless rota- 
tion, which embrace every phenomenon of the universe 
within their sweep, the jeeva is whirled, round and 
round, rapidly carried from one wheel to another, 
from birth to death, and death to birth, millions of 
times. There are several causes at work to keep him 


a close prisoner within the grinding wheels. During 
his bondage, the one thing that he does not realise is, 
that he is a dependent being and that his-'simple duty 
is to love God with all his heart and rely on Him 
absolutely. He believes himself a free agent, relies on 
himself to be deluded by the will-o'-the-wisp, and 
continues the bond-slave of Samsara. 


" On that immense Brahman wheel, the source of 
life and death for all, the individual soul rotates, 
revolves deluded, so long as he thinks that he is indep- 
endent and is a free agent. When he relies on Him 
(Brahman), he becomes immortal." The 2nd line may 
also be rendered thus, "when the Jeeva realises that 
he is different from Atma (the Lord), and that the 
inspirer of all action is the Lord, he (Jeeva) attains 
immortality, being blessed by the Lord." 

The causes that forge the fetters of the Jeeva are 
summed up in our books to be the following; (1) The will 
of God (Iswarecha), (2) Avidya, (3) Kama Karma, (4) 
Linga Sarira, (5) the mind called &J£U|M<4>4H: (6> Sthoola 
Sarira, God's will is the greatest operating cause to 
keep us in bondage. " sjfNnsrfGj^ stas^af : " " Whomso- 
ever he blesses, by him is the goal attained. " 
Nescience that obstructs the spiritual communion with 
God is also a powerful factor in tightening our chains. 
Linga Sarira comprising the eleven principles of subtle 
matter and the five breaths, is our jailor right 
through. Our release and liberty consists in explod- 
ing this husk of coating and casting it away. Of the 
great grip with which Kama Karma squeezes us 


as in an iron vice, a few words will be said later on. 
Our great effort should be directed to roast the seeds 
of Karma. 

Thus bound hand and foot by many a jailor, the 
Jeeva is cast upon a wide, wide, ocean with a bit of 
free will and a manual of Vedic laws to guide 
him as a mentor, if he choose to accept its wisdom. 
In the Krita Yuga, the Jeeva finds great facili- 
ties for spiritual advancement. Just as conditions of 
climate, sanitation, temperature, and so on, invigorate 
us so, in the golden age, the environments physical, 
mental, and moral, are highly exhilarating. 

There is a very instructive chapter in Baba 
Bharati's book "Sri Krishna', about the conditions 
obtaining in the Yugas. The description is a beautiful 
abridgement of the subject as treated in Shfinti 
Parva, Mahabh&rata. The keynote of the golden age, 
Krita Yuga, is illumination and harmony. The Satwa 
guna is then predominant throughout. Joy is the 
very breath of life. Dharma (virtue) lives upon 
all its four pedestals. Nature is transparent as a glass 
and holds its inmost secrets revealed to public gaze. 
This is very probably the millenium spoken of in 
the western scriptures, the long-forgotten age of 
bliss to which, even now, mans memory clings, 
as if led by instinct. Life is lived, in this 
age, deep in the mind, deep in the heart, and 
deep in the soul. It is an age of overwhelming 
spirituality and universal brotherhood. The play of 
passions and excesses is conspicuous by its absence. 
Men and women grow to great heights. They are 
21 cubits, about 32 feet, normally. Beauty, symmetry, 
and light, make up their persons. The climate is 
changeless spring, always sweet and bracing. 
The perfect harmony between men and the weather, 


makes houses and clothing quite superfluous. 
There is neither sunstroke nor chill tQ Be guarded 
against Nor is there the remotest tinge or trace 
of improper thought to give birth to shame and 
delicacy. Animals too share the common exhilaration 
of Satwa. In keeping with the general level of 
illumination, they are able to think and speak also. 
The so-called legends in our books that birds and 
animals used to converse with men are really no 
fables at all, if they did so in this age. This Yuga 
is the reflections of Sathyaloka, reproducing its 
conditions as far as may be. It lasts for about three 
million years. Gold is the chief element found in 

Treta the next age may be called the * silver age'. 
Virtue lives then on three legs. There is a very 
imperceptible decline of spirituality. Rajo Guna asserts 
itself gradually. The average human height is 21 
feet, and the average longevity, 10,000 years. 

Dwapara is an age of still further decline. It is 
sometimes called ' the copper age' Virtue exists on two 
legs only. Men are io£ feet high. They live as long 
as there is blood in the body. Gold and silver are 
rarer and dearer than before. 

The last age is the Kali Yuga known also as the 
1 iron age/ the one we are living in. Tamas (dark- 
ness) is the characteristic ruler of the period. 
We all know that spirituality is a rarity. Now, men 
and women are mere dwarfs. Disharmony is the key- 
note of society and of nature. It is needless to elaborate 

A careful study of the laws governing the evolution 
of the individual soul and its bodies opens our eyes to 


realise the wisdom of God and His impartiality in 
respect, to his creatures. It is not unusual fipr those 
who have not a full grasp of the ' Law of Karma' to 
denounce the Supreme Being as partial. We no 
doubt find the world filled with inequalities. We 
find a distribution of the world's goods in glaring 
disproportion and inequality. We find monopo- 
lies of strength, health, and vigour, joys, all 
heaped on one side, miseries set apart on the 
other. One man is a genius, another is an idiot. 
One is a millionaire, and another licks his dust 
in grovelling poverty. So it is, everywhere. 
Philosophers naturally ask, why should it be so if 
God be just and merciful ? 

There is no doubt whatever that God is just 
and merciful Sri Madhva says that God punishes 
and rewards according to the Jeeva's merits. 
There is the great fund of Karma which is of every 
Jeeva's own accumulating, that determines merit 
and demerit, and its appropriate consequence. God 
has one uniform Law for all. He tests every body 
with the same weights and measures. He has therefore 
no favourite, no bias, and no malice, in dispensing 
favours or meting out punishments. Before we launch 
upon a tirade against the so-called idiosyncracies of 
God, it will be important for us to remember that 
when we are born, we bring with us a few tendencies 
inherent or acquired, and it is these that determine our 
career and destiny. The first of these is the inherent 
nature of the soul. Some Jeevas are Satwic by nature, 
others Rajasic, and others again, Tamasic. This is a 
constant factor not liable to be modified or eradicated. 
Intense study, deep meditation, rigid penance, might 
remove super-incumbent crusts and over-growths, 
but not transform inherent tendencies, These are 

xl] MiaVritti Ma&ga $H 

woven into the framework of the Jeeva. This 
idea is no doubt unpalatable to many as it 
presents a rather pessimistic outlook *'in regard to 
a section of souls. Sri Madhva thinks that the 
disparities of life are not fully explicable without 
a fundamental basis of division like this. Karma 
may solve many a difficulty ; but then, the question 
will remain why one Jeeva should show a 
pronounced leaning towards good Karma alone, and 
another lo its opposite. Sri Madhva's view is that 
inherent tendency $epTT? determines pre-dispositions in 
the first instance, deflects the magnetic needle of 
Karma according to its own current, and gives the 
initial turn to the career 

The next heritage of the individual soul is what 
has been so often referred to as Karma. It is not easy 
to give a terse definition of this word. It is a 
somewhat complex idea and has to be analysed. Its 
literal import is action, but it embraces all desires, 
thoughts, and activities, within its sphere. The law 
of Karma regulates the sequence of events, and 
governs causes and effects. There is no cause and no 
effect that falls not within its influence, its purview, and 

In the words of Swami Vivekananda (Page 46 
" Speeches & writings " ) " the soul is like a tiny boat 
in a tempest raised one moment on the foaming crest 
of a billow and dashed down into a yawning chasrti 
the next, rolling to and fro at the mercy of good and 
bad actions — a powerless, helpless, wreck in an ever- 
raging, uncompromising, current of cause and effect,-*- 
a little moth placed under the wheel of causation which 
rolls on crushing everything in its way and waits not 
for the widow's tears or the orphan's cry/' The moth 


thus placed under the wheel of causation is, so far as 
any freedom is allowed to it, incessantly engaged in a 
search for happiness. This is the root motive of all 
action. As the Advanced Text Book has it, (Page 
309) " every man, boy and girl wants to be happy. 
They seek happiness in many different ways, but they 
all seek happiness. The Jeeva blinded by his body 
chooses the wrong things very often, but the motive of 
his choice is always the same, the desire to be happy* 
It is his nature to be happy and he is always trying to 
express his nature. Through the whole of his long 
pilgrimage, he is searching for happiness. This is his 
root motive, the object at which he invariably aims. 
If he does a painful thing, it is in order to gain a 
greater happiness. Happiness is his end, everything 
else is only a means to that end. The whole of 
evolution may be described in the words " a search 
for happiness." 

Those who are engaged in what is known as 
Pravritti Marga, the path outward bound, seek 
happiness in the senses. They are sportsmen driving 
the chariot of ten horses (10 senses) in pursuit of 
game. They use mind as the charioteer, and impel 
this devoted servant to drive the horses through thick 
and thin into the jungle of sensuous pleasures. They 
may catch a few bubble-like joys or they may not. 
Anyhow, it is a hot game they are engaged in, and in 
quest of happiness. 

Of the sheaths mentioned supra, the reader may 
find Kama Karma as one of the number. This is the 
power-station which supplies steam for the activities 
of this sportsman. The zest with which the chase 
after sensual pleasure is kept up is supplied by (Kama) 
desire. All our Karma is the offspring of desire* It 

jttj fcRAVtUTT! MAkG\. 3^1 

is desire that draws the Jeeva to an object, Attach* 
ment (Afohimana) is created thereby and a bondage is 
established* This leads to thought, to a* cogitation of 
means for achieving the end. This again guides the 
Jeeva to the requisite action. Icha, Gnana, and Kriyi 
are thus the threefold functions engaged in the pursuit 
of pleasures. Desire, thought, and action, constitute 
the triple chord that binds down the individual 
soul Heaps of desires, thoughts, and actions, are 
thus laid by, day by day, and hour by hour, by 
every jeeva, every one of which, is a Karmic seed 
liable to germinate, and subject the Jeeva to tens 
or hundreds of incarnations. 

Our books speak ot this accumulated stock as 
Sanchita Karma. If it consist of good actions, it 
is a stock-in-trade of which we may feel some pride. 
It it comprise bad actions, it is the ballast that 
will sink us in the abyss. Good or bad, the Sanchita 
Karma is our guiding genius for good or evil, a 
guide that holds us in leading strings, that shadows 
our movement at every pace, and dogs our steps 
whether we be waking or dreaming. Out of this 
fund, a few that are developed and mature form the 
Prarabdha Karma of the Jeeva. These are the 
ripe seeds that have begun to germinate. It is 
Prarabdha Karma selected out of Sanchita, that forms 
the proximate cause of the ensuing births and 
experiences. The country, nationality, race, caste, 
creed, and society, in which he is to be born, is 
determined by Prarabdha. The Karma of the parent 
and that of the offspring determines the relation by 
mutual affinity. The last thought, for instance, of the 
dying man, some prominent wish in his mind while in 
eatremis brings on a birth suitable thereto. This 
is the reason why suicide is so strongly condemned 

$82 PAkt ii.— f EACftifids or fciti madhVa [ctf Ai*t 

in our books as worse than murder, for, of 
all Karma seeds, the motive for self-destruction 
is the most powerful Karma-seed imaginable. The 
shock is one so forcibly and deeply cut into the soul, 
that it forms a powerful, dominating, Prarabdha for 
a series of births, in all of which the man is likely to 
end his days by suicide without any ostensible reason. 
As Baba Bharati puts it (page 224) 'Sri Krishna', 
" Man is the conscious embodiment of the blended 
forces of his past actions, actions of previous conscious 
embodiments born of the forces of still more previous 

Whatever Prarabdha has commenced to bear fruit, 
it must run out its course. Even the saint that has 
visioned God cannot help experiencing the fruits, and 
undergoing the inevitable suffering and enjoyments. 

As the soul continues to enjoy and suffer, it does 
other actions which are additions to the stock. The 
current Karma, whose fruits of course are in the 


future, is called Varthamana (present) or AgAmi 

The sage who has seen God, has the Sanchita 


burnt up and the Agami-supply prevented and cut off. 
He has only the Prarabdha to deal with, and even as 
to this, God shows him concessions. There is thus no 
possibility of escaping from the grip of Karma except 
by the grace of the Almighty. 

The law of Karma as understood by Hinduism 
is not predestination. ' Karma 1 does not smother 
freedom of will and reduce man into a machine. The 
law of Karma is like any other law of nature laying 
down the limitations incidental to action- Just as the 
Jaw of gravitation, for example, imposes no command 


upon anybody to climb a hill or descend a slope *b»f 
simply lays down the rule that whosoever wishes tp 
ascend must be prepared for fatigue and/ vice verm* so 
the law of Karma lays down the relation and sequence 
of cause and effect. Human will is free to choose 
means and ends, notwithstanding the Jaw; only, it 
cannot sow thistles and expect to reap a harvest 
of corn. 

If therefore a man makes his desires noble, he 
lays by good Karma, forms useful habits, and builds a 
noble character. In this sense, subject of course to his 
inherent nature and the Divine will, every man is the 
architect of his own destinies. The law of Karma is 
thus no destroyer of ethical foundations, for, it does 
not deprive man of free will and moral responsibility. 
Impelled and directed by Kama Karma among other 
forces, the Jeeva takes on one kind of body after 
another in the progress of evolution. 

Aaitareya Aranyaka has the following account of 
evolution : 

^rcwRini^ft swt^i aro^nfairT**^ i fan* wife t 

''In herbs and trees rasa (sap-life) is seen, and mipd 
in them that have Prana. In them that have Pran#, 
Atma is more manifest. In them rasa is seen, while 
mind is not seen in the others. In man, the Atma is 
most manifest. He is most supplied with knjewleii|je f 


He speaks that which he knows. He knows what 
occurred yesterday. He knows the visible and the 
invisible : by the mortal, he desires the immortal Thus 
supplied is he, but of the others, animals, hunger and 
thirst are the only knowledge. They speak not the 
known. They see not the known; they known not what 
belongs to yesterday nor the visible and the invisible : 
only this much have they ; according to the knowledge 
are the births." Herein is a lucid exposition of the 
gradation in the march of progress. 

We have seen in a previous chapter that 
matter is summed up in 24 principles, from 
Mahat to the elementals. (Ether, etc.) These are 
the components of every atom. Jeeva encased 
in an atom of dust, finds that his prison 
has no doors and windows- He finds that the passages 
are all closed and barred against the sense-objects. 
He longs tor passages being opened, so that he might 
sense the external world. Under the pressure of desire, 
gratification follows. The mineral body develops into 
a blade of grass, where but a single passage remains 
opened, viz., touch- The blade of grass has feeling and 
draws sap. It is all stomach and no more. Under the 
stress of desire, evolution leads the Jeeva higher and 
higher until he passes through varieties of plant-life 
and animal-life. When he is an animal such as a dog, 
his life is entirely in the senses. When he is a monkey 
or an ape, all the passages are open except love, 
Budhi (discrimination), and the higher martas. 
Standing on the verge and broders of humanity, the 
ape has well-developed instincts and automatic 
memory, though reasoning and hope are not yet 
manifest In man, all the 24 principles have appropriate 
openings and passages. Hence it is that he is 
a perfect miniature of the Universe. 


This evolution of form — an evolution on the 
material plane — is to be carefully distinguished frott* 
the inner evolution of the spirit. There is in fact a 
double evolution proceeding apace, on both the planes. 
The one on the plane of matter is the theme of 
Darwinian science. The law of heredity is the 
exponent of this evolution. 

The Jeeva is, by his desires and actions, perpetually 
adding to his knowledge and developing his powers. 
He is by the same methods acquiring higher and 
higher forms. The parent of his body supplies his 
body with tendencies and capacities; to these he 
adds his own fund of character, and makes further 
progress on both the lines. 

Our books have a very clear grasp of the 
material and spiritual progress that is implied by 
animalism elevated to humanity, by the growth 
of the savage man into the civilised man, of the 
civilised man to the religious man, and of the re- 
ligious man to the spiritual man. Millions of 
incarnations are passed through, in the course of this 

Thus, on the physical plane, there is an unbroken 
continuity of forms more and more developed, from 
the lowest step of animal life to the highest stage of 
man. The law of transmigration postulates the 
continuity of consciousness necessary for self-evolu* 
tion, for the progress of mental and moral 
individuality. These two developments coupled 
together account for the full evolution of man* As in 
the physical, so in the mental, moral, and spiritual 
planes, evolution goes on in an endless chain of 
developments, nothing being lost and annihilated 


George Du. Maurier has a beautiful description 
off the. goal of life, which is well worth quoting. 
" Nothing is* lost, nothing, from the ineffable, high, 
fleeting thought a Shakspeare cannot find words to 
express, — to the slightest sensation of an earth-worm : 
not a leafs feeling of light, not a lodestone's sense of 
the pole, not a single volcanic or electric thrill of the 
mother Earth. 

* "The sun rains life on to the mother Earth. A poor 
little life it was, at first, as you know, grasses and moss 
and little wriggling transparent things. All stomach, 
it is quite true ; that is what we came from, Shakspeare 
and you and I. As far as I can make out, everything, 
everywhere, seems to be an ever-deepening, ever- 
broadening, stream that makes with inconceivable 
velocity for its own proper level, where perfection is : 
only, that, unlike an earthly stream, and more like a 
fresh flowing tide up an endless, boundless, shoreless, 
creek, the level it seeks is immensely higher than its 
source, and everywhere in it, is Life, Life, Life, ever 
renewing and doubling itself, and ever swelling that 
mighty river which has no banks. 

"And everywhere in it, like begets like, plus a little 
better or a little worse, and the little worse finds its way 
into some back-water and sticks there, and finally goes 
to the bottom and nobody cares. And the little better 
goes on bettering and bettering : Not all mans 
folly or perverseness can hinder that, nor make that 
headlong torrent stay or ebb or roll backward for a 
moment. The record goes on beating itself, the high- 
watermark gets higher and higher, till the highest on 
earth is reached that can be, and then, I suppose the 
earth grows cold and the sun goes out to be broken up 
into bits and used all over again perhaps. And better- 


ness flies to warmer climes, and huger systems; to 
better itself still : And so on, from better to better, 
from higher to higher, from warmer to' warmer, and 
bigger to bigger, for ever and ever and ever. Endless 
chain, we, Shakespeare and all: Just a little way 
behind us, those wriggling transparent things, all 
stomach that we descend from ; and far a-head of 
ourselves, but in the direct line of descent from us, 
an ever-growing conscious power, so strong, so glad, 
so simple, so wise, so mild, and so beneficent, that 
what we can do even now is but to fall on our knees 
with our foreheads in the dust and our hearts brimful 
of wonder, hope and lovre, and tender shivering awe. 

" As we sow, we reap; all the sowing is done here 
on earth and the reaping beyond. Man is a grub. His 
dead clay as he is coffined in his grave, is the left 
off cocoon he has spun for himself during his earthly 
life to burst open and soar from, with all his memories 
about him." ' 

The chief concern of man is to see that he 
sows proper seeds and reaps a good harvest. It 
is his look-out to march from better to still better, 
to progress ever onward and never to retrograde, 
stagnate, or deteriorate. It is his duty to catch sight 
of the great Power in the yonder horizon, and fall 
on his knees to lick the dust in reverence, awe, and 
love. It should be his aim to turn from the senses and 
be free from earthly desires. 

That soul is bound which is tied to desire, attached 
to objects, and, is in quest of mundane pleasures. 
Such a one knows not God, but has its face turned 
away from Him. At each step, it drags a lengthening 
chain from the Almighty and rivets the bondage by 
adding, day after day, fresh links to the chain. It is a 


precipitate descent that the rash traveller is engaged 
in. The farther he proceeds, the more forcibly does 
he gravitate towards the abyss, with the ever-growing 
load of Karma set upon his back. This path is known 
in the Shastras as Pravritti Marga, the path, outward 
bound. Its aims and fruits are Dharma, Artha and 
Kama. It is set in opposition to Nivritti Marga which 
leads to Moksha or release. 



Every religious system has its philosophy, its 
Puranas, and its ritualism. The philosophy offers a 
reasoned theory of the Universe. The Puranas tell 
stories of saints, sages ; prophets and Avatars, so as 
to illustrate, elucidate, and concretize, the philosophical 
teachings. They convey the truths of the system by 
allegories, history, traditions and legends, in a way 
appealable to the understanding of the many. The 
ritual is symbology whose object and effect is, among 
others, to make religious life appeal strongly to the 
senses and get assimilated into the automatic habits 
of men and women. 

Sri Madhva wrote numerous works of philosophy. 
Next, he wrote an epitome of the Mahabharata, re-telling 
the story of the great epic in a succint and connected 
narrative, so as to bring out the hidden moral and 
spiritual lessons, vividly. This volume is at once a 
remarkable summary and commentary of the Maha- 
bharata, lucidly setting uut how the teachings of the 
great epic convey and emphasize the Madhva 
doctrines, and how Sri Krishna and Bhecshma the 
great teachers of the day taught religion and duty as 
Dualists understand the terms. This and similar 
works of Sri Madhva are the volumes of his 
concretized philosophy- Thirdly, Sri Madhva wrote 
also some works to regulate and codify the ritualistic 
observances of his disciples and followers. The well- 
known Sadachara Smriti, Krishnamirita Maharnava, 
Jayanti Nirnaya, and Tantrasara etc., are short 
codes dealing with the daily and occasional duties 


and- rites of Madhvas, and with the symbology of 
their religious life. 

Sri Madhva was a staunch upholder of caste. 
He believed in it as the foundation of Hindu religion 
and polity, as the bed-rock on which the moral 
and religious edifice of mankind should be built. He 
allowed no relaxation of its rigidity and sympathised 
;vith no deviation from its imperious laws. He saw 
in the institution nothing but the highest wisdom, 
and did his best to define, regulate, and fix, the 
demarcations and landmarks, with clearness and 
sharpness. I have no space or inclination to enter the 
field of controversy regarding the advantages and 
disadvantages of the caste system and the part it has 
played in India, Opinions are naturally divided very 
sharply over the question. Caste has had its warmest 
admirers and its bitterest detractors. While Christian 
missionaries have condemned it as the bane of India, 
Theosophists and Oriental scholars, have belauded it 
as a perfection of social legislation. Amongst the mass 
of literature pro and con, the testimony of one 
writer is worth quoting, for he is a hostile 
witness, one who does not see anything great in 
ancient or modern India, and who is the author of 
a thick volume of misrepresentation and malice about 
Indian manners, customs, and ceremonies. This is 
Abbe Dubois, who lived in Southern India for many 
years, towards the end of the 18th century. He says 
(page 28) " I believe caste division to be in many 
respects, the Chef-d'oeuvre, the happiest effort of Hindu 
legislation. 1 am presuaded that it is simply and 
solely due to the distribution of the people into castes 
that India did not lapse into a state of barbarism, and 
that she preserved and perfected the arts and sciences 
of civilization, whilst most other nations of the earth 


remained in a state of barbarism. Such an institution 
was probably the only means that the most clear- 
sighted prudence could devise for maintaining a state 
of civilization. 

"We can picture what would become of the 
Hindus if they were not kept within the bounds of 
duty by the rules and penalties of castes, by looking 
at the position of Pariahs or outcastes of India, who, 
checked by no moral restraint, abandon themselves to 
their natural propensities. For my part, being 
perfectly familiar with this class, and acquainted with 
its natural predilections and sentiments, I am persu- 
aded that a nation of Pariahs left to themselves 
would speedily become worse than the hordes of 
cannibals who wander in the vast wastes of Africa, 
and would soon take to devouring each other. 

" These ancient law-givers, therefore, being well 
aware of the danger caused by religious and political 
innovations, and being anxious to establish durable and 
inviolable rules for the different castes composing the 
Hindu nation, saw no surer way of attaining their 
object than by combining, in an unmistakable manner, 
those great foundations of orderly government, religion 
and politics. Accordingly, there is not one of their 
ancient usages, not one of their observances, which 
has not some religious principle or object attached to 
it. The style of greeting, the mode of dressing, the 
cut of clothes, the shape of ornaments and their manner 
of adjustment, the various details of the toilette, the 
architecture of houses, the corners where the hearth is 
placed and where the cooking pots must stand, the 
manner of going to bed and of sleeping, the forms of 
civility and politeness that must be observed, all 
these are severely regulated/' Scores of similar 


opinions justifying caste may be cited, but it is 
hardly necessary. 

Sri Krishna says : 


"I created the four castes by classifying men 
according to their character and action." The 
fourfold division of caste is thus of God's creation. 
Therefore, Sri Madhva believed in it, implicitly. 

The end and aim of all our symbols, castemarks, 
image - worship, and Nama Sankeertans, as well 
as all the rites we perform, is Bhakti. Ritualism 
is only the lower stage of Bhakti, the training 
school of mental and moral drill, in which every 
man should undergo a rigid discipline to bring his 
senses under control and acquire the 'one-pointed 
concentration' indispensable for salvation. The 
ritual may look like a shell devoid of vitality. 
But it is really not so. Ostensibly, it may look 
a mere fossil. But it is, in truth, a nutrition for 
the tender, growing, plant of spirituality. Let us see 
what it consists of. 

With a laconic brevity hardly appropriate for 
the subject, the District Manual of South Canara 
sums up Sri Madhva's injunctions in three words. 
It says that * Ankana ' Namakarana and ' Bhajana * 
constitute the sum total of Madhva observances. A 
brief gioss adds that 'Ankana' is marking the body 
with symbols, especially hot iron. A foreigner 
unacquainted with Indian customs, is not likely to 
be particularly edified by the text and the gloss. 
He will run away with the idea that Madhvas. are so 
many savages who undergo a branding-torture 

xil] ritualism. 

everyday of their lives, and that the practice is one 
akin to Satti and other forms of self-immQlat ion spoken 
of in weird stories of Indian life. But, as a .matter of 
fact, branding does not exist as an evil, and no 
legislator or philanthropist need trouble himself to 
offer succour to save this community. 

Hinduism insists on every votary making no 
secret of his professions, and of exhibiting them, 
by openly wearing symbols and badges. Every 
caste, every dsrama, and every cult, has its 
characteristic insignia. It is expected that the 
Hindu should not be ashamed to own open 
allegiance to his faith and publicly wear the pres- 
cribed marks. English education having shaken 
Hindu beliefs, has, of late, brought about a kind of 
double life, by reason of external symbols being 
adhered to, while the underlying faith has gone, 
.This however is no fault of Hinduism. 

- These caste marks and badges are highly useful 
to promote solidarity among the members of the 
particular brotherhood. They serve as a banner 
for all co-religionists to recognize one another 
at a glance and rally together in the name 
of a common creed. The symbols are, every one of 
them, instinct with occultism, revealing to the esoteric 
inquirer, spiritual truths of value. It is difficult to 
see where the notion of barbarity comes in, when a 
social or religious guild adopts symbols analogous to 
masonic watchwords. Some Europeans probably 
confuse the caste-marks with tattoo pictures in paint 
introduced into the skin by a process of painful 
pricking. But the marks in question are merely 
smeared over the skin, liable to be wiped away by a 
copious perspiration. 


The forehead marks of a Madhwa Brahmin are a 
perpendicular line of charcoal with a reddish dot at its 
base. It is not any charcoal that is used for the purpose, 
but only a piece that had been used red-hot for burning 
incense to the Deity. The dot is a mixture of saffron 
and chunam whose chemical union produces a reddish 
paste. The symbol worn on the forehead resembles 
the stem and bulb of a thermometer set in between 
two vertical lines of Gopi mud or sandal paste. On 
the upper arms, the chest, and belly, tracings of Gopi- 
mud or sandal are prominent, resembling tapering 
leaves or flames. The central one represents a lotus 
stalk supporting a flower. On these tracings and upon 
the temples near the corners of both the eyes, marks 
of metallic s*als, dipped in Gopi-mud are also visible. 
Just as a Sri Vaishnava is made out by the striking 
tracings in white and red upon his forehead and 
in numerous places on the body, and just as 
Smarthas are made out by horizontal lines of 
ashes on the said parts, Madhwas wear the marks 
aforesaid so as to be identified beyond mistake. 
The stamps are the emblems of Vaishnavaism. They 
represent the weapons of Vishnu, Whenever the 
Guru on the pontificate throne goes about touring, 
his followers receive imprints of the metallic seals 
heated more or less over the fire. At the Upanayana, 
every father or spiritual guru blesses the young 
initiate with the imprint, the Gopi-paste being used 
instead of fire. Sri Vaishnavas too submit to this holy 
branding at the hands of gurus. With us, the branding 
is very mild indeed, and occurs at enormous intervals, 
not more than once or twice in a lifetime, on an 
average. These namams or tracings seem to have 
been largely in vogue in Canara at, and before, 
the time of the Master. Men professing Bhagavata 

xn j rituaIIsm. $$g- 

Sampradayam wear these identical namams, to this 
day, though they are not Madhwas. This community 
of Smarthas is numerically strong in*' Canara. In 
faith, they occupy a position midway between 
Saivites and Vaishnavites, for, they hold Siva and 
Vishnu to be of equal rank. They do not wear 
the madras or seals- They officiate as priests in 
several temples of Siva in that district. 

Sri Madhva was probably born in this sect, 
and therefore inherited the namams under con- 
sideration. He perpetuated them with the addition 
of Vaishnava symbols, viz., mudras. 

It is a cardinal belief of Sri Madhva that the 
thought of the Supreme Being at the moment of 
one's death is of the greatest importance to one's 
spiritual salvation- It is only sages that are capable 
of it. Ordinary people remain either dazed or think 
of some mundane object while in extremis, and hanker 
after a sensual pleasure- These are bound to be 
re-born as salves of that particular desire. Those who 
think of God at the crisis when life is ebbing away, 
attain immortality. Such is the strong belief. 

With this aim steadily kept in view, the ritualistic 
code is drawn up so that every thought, word, and act, 
may be turned towards God. Man is nothing if not a 
slave of habit. It is of the utmost importance that our 
activities in the direction of virtue and rectitude should 
be so drilled as to become automatic. It is of the 
utmost importance that religious duties should become 
assimilated into our mental and spiritual framework 
as mechanical volitions. 

When the child begins to walk, every step it puts 
forward is the result of deliberate volition and 


conscious effort When a lady is learning to play on 
a piano, she seeks out, by effort, the keys of the note, 
and exerts herself to lay the finger on the right spot. 
Soon, the volition becomes mechanical, and effort 
disappears. The child runs without any thought of 
the steps : and the lady produces melodious airs 
without thinking at all of the keys and the fingers. 
In each case, the will has degenerated into automatic 
action- Such is the drill of a military soldier. The 
story goes that a military deserter was once spotted 
and arrested in a crowd, when the detective simply 
cried " Attention M at random, and marked its 
effect among the multitude. The deserter involun- 
tarily responded to the call, while everybody else stood 

The symbols of God are meant to serve as remem- 
brancers of Vishnu, so that the Bhakta may automati- 
cally think of Him even when his senses are in 
disorder, when his brain is dazed or his soul is in a 

Another device based on precisely the same 
end in view is the injunction of " Namakarana*'' 
Every Madhwa is commanded to name himself, 
and his kith and kin, by some well-known 
designation of Vishnu or of his Bhaktas, 
such as, Hanuman, Bheema, Madhva, and so on. 
Srimad Bhagavata points out by means of an episode 
known as Ajamilopakhyana, that, by bestowing Divine 
names on kith and kin, the spiritual advantage is simply 
incalculable. It is said that King Ajamila was a 
moral and spiritual leper, as lar as man could judge 
him by his apparent character and conduct in life, 
a veritable monster of depravity. When he was on 
death-bed, he summoned his son to his side, Narayana 

*«.} felTtJALi&M. $# 

by name. This designation brought the Supreme 
Being to his mind and paved his way to Heaven. 

If we have to call ourselves and others by names, 
as we undoubtedly must in order to get on in the 
world, why should we not choose such names as will 
serve both a religious and a secular purpose ? This 
is the Hindu idea of economy implied in killing two 
birds with a single stone. 

God's name itself is to all Hindus an object of 
worship. Vishnu, Narayana, Krishna, and names 
like these, have a magical ring in our ears, kindle 
noble images in our minds, and are treated as quite 
unlike other names in the language. Devotees 
are advised to pronounce such names as often as 
possible. It is stated that to keep the names even 
mechanically on the lips, is of immense efficacy. As 
we walk, as we eat, and as we work, whatever the 
engagement, whatever the pursuit, the advice is to 
say ' Rama ' or 'Krishna' whenever it may be possible, 
mechanically or intelligently. God's name is a 
tongue of spiritual flame that will burn up sins, even 
if uttered in ignorance- 

Chaitanya set the prairies of Bengal and Orissa 
on fire by the flaming torch of ' Hari Bole,' It 
was merely the name oi Hari that produced the 
medceval Vaishnavaism unparalleled in the history 
of Northern India. Thousands of men and women 
went into raptures, and many of them into ecstatic 
trances, at the resounding echoes of ' Hari. ' What 
is there in a name'? the poet asks. There is in 
this name, condensed and locked up, a supernatural 
efficacy that defies analysis: Millions of saints 
have uttered it and attained the Summum Bonum* 

j<jS PAkT ii. — f £acMi&gs Of* SRI MAD&VA £cHAt». 

Thus the worship of a Divine name is a ritualif m of 
high value. It occupies a pedestal much higher than 
the ritualism ef mechanical symbols. 

A little reflection is enough to convince us that 
words and thoughts are wedded to each other more 
intimately than we are disposed to concede at first 
sight. Some people fancy that words are late 
inventions of humanity, as mere devices and shifts 
of conventional understandings and agreements. 
This is a superficial view of the subject. No 
concept seems possible without words. " Language 
and thought go hand in hand ; where there is as yet 
no word, there is not yet an idea" says Max Mullen 
" Thoughts are the inner part and word is the outer 
part, and they must come together : they cannot be 
separated " says Swami Vivekananda. Max Muller 
observes, (Page 229 " Life and Religion ") " Cannot a 
concept exist without a word ? certainly not ; and if 
it is asked whether the concept exist first, and the sign 
comes afterwards, I should say, no, the two are 
simultaneous. But in strict logic, the sign being the 
condition of a concept, may really be said to come first. 
After a time, words may be dropped, and it is then 
when we try to remember the old word that gave 
birth to our concept, that we are led to imagine that 
concepts came first and words afterwards, I know 
how difficult it is to see this clearly. We are so 
accustomed to think without words that we can 
hardly realize the fact that originally no conceptual 
thoughts was possible without these or other signs." 

Every name in the Sanskrit language yeilds 
upon an analysis of roots and suffixes, a 
rich treasure of attributes sudi as can dwell 
in the Almighty alone in perfection* To a 


profound scholar, every name such as Indra 
and Chandra, denotes an excellence appropriate 
only to the Supreme Being. The thousand names of 
Vishnu call up likewise, lofty ideas of the Divine 
greatness. By association, and by etymological 
import, these names produce flashes of thought, and 
present the Divine Being before the mental vision. 
Where then is the absurdity in bowing before 
the Name ? 

It is not the Hindu idolators alone that worship 
names with peculiar reverence. " In the name of the 
Lord " is a favourite expression in the mouth of 
Christians and Hebrews, to denote something very 
solemn and very holy. The Hebrews considered that 
the Holy name was so holy that it should not be 
pronounced by ordinary men. "The word was God" 
is a Biblical saying elevating the divine name to 
the rank of godhead itself. 

It has been seen that we revere certain symbols 
by wearing them on our persons, and that we 
revere God's names by bestowing them on kith 
and kin. What more are we asked to do ? We 
are told to engage in Bhajana. This is the third 
of the injunctions. 

Bhajana is worship, literally. It is the most 
comprehensive word that sums up our religious 
duties. It includes every thought, word, and act, 
pointing to God. It includes self-surrender of every 
degree, and spiritual aspirations of every shade. 
It covers the whole field of ritualism from the 
lowest conceivable fetish to the most etherialfeed 
worship of God, 


"The worship of forms constitutes our first lesson 
in this .training. We are told so select some idols or 
images or objects, and invoke God therein by 
prayers and Mantras. Images that have been 
long in worship, especially by learned men, enjoy 
the Divine Presence induced by the superior 
piety and prayers of the wise. Idols thus charged 
with divine magnetism, should be secured, and 
preserved in a reserve^ chapel. Day after day, we 
are enjoined to do Puja, in view to religion 
becoming part and parcel of our life, flesh of our 
flesh, bone of our bone. This routine is in fact 
observed in most houses. Saligram-stones, metallic 
or wood images, are set up on a throne, and 
homage rendered thereto as at the throne of an 
Emperor. The details comprise a long and elaborate 
programme The stones and images are bathed 
with reverence, rubbed dry with cloth, ornamented 
with flowers, and prayed to with devotion. Bells 
flowers, sandal, incense, and lights, are used 
abundantly in the act of worship. The consciousness 
that it is only an image, is smothered and 
suppressed. The mind is thus, day after day, 
drilled into a habit of concentration, Sri Madhva 
says, as emphatically as words can, that image- 
worship is meant only for the lowest stage, for the 
ignorant. siftjii^sijfcgwf «Jnfflfr<lk*Mf are his words 
at the end of the first Adhyaya of his Sootra Bhashya. 
They mean that God is to be worshipped in images by 
the non-wise; as for the learned, they worship God 

Rising from the stage of idol- worship, the 
Bhakta is told to adore and worship godly men as 
constituting walking images^ of God. Wise men are 
so many centres of attraction for the Divine Presence, 


Lesser men should therefore revere the wise, 
because, the latter possess God in their hearty 
in a peculiar sense. Hero-worship Js a* phen$- 
menon of universal prevalence in human society* 
It prevails not only in India, but also in advanced 
Europe and democratic America. There, the hero 
is deified as a soldier, statesman, philosopher, poet, 
painter, and so on. The world appreciates and 
admires everything above the dead level of averages* 
The worst iconoclast forgets his dogmas and falls 
at the feet of a lady-love, or bows to wealth and 
power. He is less than human if he has not a 
warm corner in his heart for nation-builders and 
heroes who lay the mile-stones of history. 

Among heroes thus adored, the saint is one. The 
worship of saints is known all over the world. 
Hundreds of them are deified in every system of 
religion. Saints are superior beings who may or 
may not worship selected idols, but worship God 
in every object of creation and beyond. They are 
the wise spoken of by Sri Madhva * as worshipping 
God everywhere.' Their vision is powerful and 
strong, and catches sight of God where ours cannot. 
There is nothing strange about this. As Swami 
Vivekananda puts it, " an owl, for instance, sees in 
the dark, because it catches the all-pervading 
vibrations of light in what is darkness to eyes 
otherwise constituted/' The light-vibration is present 
everywhere and always, though perhaps in varying 
degrees of intensity. We catch them at certain 
pitches and velocities, and other beings do at higher 
or lower points. Sages and Saints catch sight of 
the Divinity in states which we call ignorance, 
God stands revealed to them in forms, though to 
our weak eyes, He is invisible. 


The worship of symbols, names, forms, and 
godly men, appears to be a psychological necessity 
of man.' Swami Vivekananda says " man may cry 
against it, struggle against it, but as soon as he 
attempts to realize God, he will find the con- 
stitutional necessity of thinking of God as a man/ 1 
All thought in fact consists of images. Even the 
Christian at prayer has only images of man floating in 
his mind, may be, magnified editions of man, but still 
human in shape and figure. The Budhas and the Jains 
who kicked vigorously at the pricks of Theism, ended 
by setting up more temples of idol-worship in India 
than any other religionists. The country swarmed 
with temples of Budha, Sidhas, and Thirthan- 
karas, and in these, idol-worship prevailed to a 
shocking degree. Even the temple of Jagannath was, 
it is said, a Budhist temple originally. 

It is, no doubt, the fashion for almost every 
religionist to attack other religions as idolatrous and 
hold up their symbols to ridicule. It is the old story 
of the beam in one's own eye being ignored, and the 
little mote in somebody else's prominently pointed out. 
Max Muller observes (Page [58, 'Thoughts on life 
aiid Religion '): "No Judge, if he had before him the 
worst of criminals, would treat him, as most historians 
and theologians have treated the religions of the 
world. Every act in the lives of their founders, 
which shows that they were but men, is eagerly 
seized and judged without mercy. Every doctrine 
that is not carefully guarded, is interpreted in the 
worst sense it will bear; every act of worship 
that differs from our own way of serving God, 
is held up to ridicule and contempt. And this 
is not done by accident, but with a purpose, 

Jul] kiTtJAUSM* 4$$ 

with something of that artificial sense ' of 
duty which stimulates counsel for the defence t© 
see nothing but an angel in his own client and 
anything but an angel in the plaintiff' on the other 
side. The result is a complete miscarriage of 

Abbe Dubois wrote such a book in the last 
century, about our customs, manners, and religious 
ceremonies. He was a devout Christian Missionary. 
He exhausted the language of abuse in describing 
Hindu character and treated the Brahmins in 
particular to a choice selection of the most opprobri- 
ous epithets. His delineation is an outrageous 
caricature from start to finish, like figures in the 
Punch, with this difference, that the misdrawn 
figures are passed off* and represented as faithful 
life-like photographs. Such a misrepresention is 
possible and easy with regard to any subject, if 
there be but the will, for, it is only necessary to 
select oddities and idiosyncrasies, group them in a 
ludicrous manner, throw in a few inuendos for 
flavour, and concoct a story of buppressio Veri and 
Suggestio falsi. The skill lies in the selection of 
topics and the presentment thereof. To the credit 
of the Abbe, it must be mentioned that he made 
no secret of his true aim and intention. He 
frankly tells his readers, "It struck me that a faithful 
picture of the wickedness and incongruities of 
polytheism and idolatry would, by its very 
ugliness, help greatly to set off the beauties and 
perfections of Christianity. It was thus that the 
Lacedoemonians placed drunken slaves in the sight 
of their children in order to inspire the latter with 
horror of intemperance." This passage lets the cat 

404 fAftf II. — TEACriiNCS OF SRI MADHVA [cHAI*, 

out of the bag. The intention was obviously to set 
a hideous figure of India's polytheism and idolatry 
in the sight 'of Christians, so as to produce a horror. 
How well the purpose has been achieved, the 
readers of the Abbe's stout volume are only too well 
aware. During a residence of 30 years in the 
Country, and in the course of his arduous studies of 
the people, the Abbe did not encounter in our 
religious or secular literature any work more 
sublime thftn the fables of Mariada Raman and 
Panchatantra. He never heard of our Bhagavatam 
or Bhagavat Geeta. 

Polytheism and idolatry ! This is the usual 
censure. The Vaishnavas who believe in Narayana 
as the Supreme Being, the only God above the 
gods, are no polytheists in any sense. They are 
Unitarians out and out, believing in Monotheism 

As for idolatry and superstition, it is hard to 
light upon any nation in the world which is truly 
free in this respect. When the Christians say 
that God descended in the shape of a dove, rather 
than a cow or a cat, they seriously associate the 
dove with holiness, and regard themselves as above 
superstition. When the Hindu associates holiness 
with the cow, the Christian gets wild with him 
and calls him a superstitious infidel. Then there 
is the Cross, held clear and sacred. There is the 
Church, more sacred than other houses^ The attitude 
in prayer, the mental images worshipped in prayers, 
the sacrament, these and a host of others too numerous 
to mention, demonstrate the subtle idolatry and supers- 
tition of even the Protestanjs. The French Abbe oi 

iciLJ kifUALisM. 405 

the Catholic Church was a dweller in glass-houses, 
who could ill afford to throw stones at others* He 
believed in images, conducted car festivals of Saint 
Mary, burnt incense at the altar, used bells and 
candles in religious service, and indulged in a lot of 
symbology in aid of private and public worship. He 
maintained however, "my symbols, names, aiti 
forms, are all right. Yours, heresy, blasphemy, 
and superstition." The Jews who have so much in 
common with Christians, revere a mere#box with 
angels drawn in paint upon its sides. The 
Mahomedans whose iconoclasm desolated temples 
innumerable from the Himalayas to the Cape 
Cornorin, and from sea to sea, are no better, 
examined at close quarters. They broke down 
Hindu idols without number, but had queer 
superstitions of their own to take the place of 
dislodged Hinduism. Here is an instance forcibly 
pointed out by Swami Vivckananda. The Swami 
says "The Mahomedan must imagine, whenever he 
prays, that he is in the temple of Kaba, and when he 
makes a pilgrimage there, there is a black stone in the 
wall that he must kiss, and all the kisses that have 
been imprinted on that stone by millions and millions 
of pilgrims, will stand up as witnesses for the benefit 
of the faithful at the last day of judgment. 
There is the well of Zim Zim. Mahomedans believe 
that the sins of whomsoever draws a little water of 
that well will be pardoned, and he will have a 
fresh body and live for ever after the day of 

Like the cross and the crescent, the Hindus have 
various symbols as pegs to hang spiritual ideas 
upon. On principle, there is no rhyme or reason in 


condemning their symbology alone as obnoxious to 
common-sense. Nor is there the least ground to 
talk of Madhvas in the strain in which the South 
Canara Manual disposes of their 'Ankana', the terse 
remark being that they ' brand themselves with 
hpt iron; a statement as erroneous as it is 



He who keeps the goal steadily in view never 
misses the true path. The goal is the attainment 
of God , and the pilgrim should tread the path 
leading to that goal. Whoever keeps it constantly 
in sight is bound to tread the path known as 
Nivritti Marga, the path that leads him inward 
unto the T3weller of the heart and away from the 

In one of her lectures, Mrs. Besant employs a 
beautiful simile to describe this path. She represents 
God as dwelling enthroned in a temple on the top of a 
mountain. This temple has seven enclosures one within 
another hiding the sanctum sanctorum of His Presence. 
The mountain is spiral \n shape, very wide at the base, 
and gradually narrowing up to the temple which is 
perched on the top. It has millions of winding roads all 
round, describing circles from the base- to the top, 
each circle broader in circumference than the one 
just above and leading unto it. The pilgrim that 
begins the ascent of this gigantic mountain finds the 
route inordinately long-winded at the foot. He has 
no idea of the goal, but walks on guided by in- 
stinct and intuition. The way is long and rugged, 
and progress is very slow. Threading the wearisome 
path by slow marches, he frequently tarries and 
loiters on the way to pluck a way-side flower or 
taste a little berry at the hedge He is often 
tempted to cut across the bye-paths leading into 
the thickets of the jungle, in quest of son*$ 


horiey-comb he has seen or imagined, perched on 
a tree. m Forgetting the main road and the purpose 
of his journey, he takes long rambles for ages 
together in quest of game and sport. He 
gets a few pleasures, but is soon satiated, and 
hunts after others, always with the same result. 
A sense of weariness comes over him. May be, 
that he catches the ringing hurrah of other pilgrims 
who are pursuing the trunk road above him and even 
gets a glimpse of that road. A faint recollection 
brings him back from the tangled foot-paths into 
which he has strayed, and he finds himself once more 
on the highway. With a resolution not to stray away 
again, he makes some progress. But soon, he 
relapses into indifference, for, the goal is still out of 
sight. The vineyards on the way-side are so attractive 
that the temptation is irresistible to stray again. 
When the cheery voice of the advanced fellow- 
pilgrims is feeble in the ears, he strays again to taste 
the grapes, and wastes away thousands of births in 
this manner in digressions and deviations. 

As one winding road is thus passed after another, 
if the pilgrim be a capable mountaineer and stout 
of heart, he reaches the half-way houses where the 
bracing spirituality of the mountain-air refreshes and 
invigorates him. Hereafter, there will be fewer 
hankerings after sensuous pleasures, less forget- 
fuluess of the prime purpose of the pilgrimage. 
Thus, proceeding higher and higher, he meets a 
suffusing glow of light stealing gently over him with 
a mellifluous lustre he had never seen lower down. 
It is the spiritual halo covering these high 
regions, the distant dusk of diffused radiance proceed- 
ing from the temple at the hill-top still so far, so 
very far away, and still entirely out of sight. 

Xill.] NIVRITTI MAR&A. 409 

Once the pilgrim gets into the regions of thtl 
twilight, his progress is steady and assured. The 
way is clear and he takes rapid strides. •' As he pro- 
ceeds, the light becomes stronger and stronger, and 
the landscape shines before him with ever-brighten- 
ing glow. 

At last, when he catches a glimpse of the temple, he 
feels his redemption as within sight. He increases the 
pace and literally runs to the goal. There may yet be 
millions of windings to be got through, but he 
does not lose heart, nor does he slacken his speed. 

He makes a pull, a long pull, a strong pull, and a 
pull altogether, to rush into the bosom of the great 
Sun shining within the portals of the temple, and 
spreading His myriad rays of hallowing, soothing, 
bliss, far and wide. He who has once caught sight of 
the soft delicious effulgence, turns not to the right or to 
the left, but makes for the goal, bathed in the flood 
of a soul-stirring halo and peace. 

The religious literature of Hinduism is, very 
often not without reason, accused of being 
saturated with pessimism to the core. There are, 
no doubt, scores of books depicting life as a 
great evil and presenting a powerful array of 
reasons for the conclusion that life is by no means 
worth living. This is not the case with the whole 
of Indian literature, though, after due allowance 
is made for honorable exceptions, it must be 
conceded that the general trend and drift is to 
take a despondent view. No man who is not 
stout of heart can do this journey of life with 
benefit. There is however no reason whatever t6 
take such a gloomy view of earthly existence, and 
lose heart, 



" Nor is God obtained by the strengthless, nor 
by the careless, nor without marks of austerity; 
the wise who strives by these means, of him, the 
Atma enters the abode of Brahman." 

What is the warrant to be gloomy and cheerless ? 
Is it because the way is long? Surely, given time 
and energy, it can be journeyed through. Is it 
because the road is not strewn with roses, but with 
thorns ? Surely, others have trodden the path 
before, and what was possible for them is possible 
to every earnest pilgrim. Is it because the winding 
labyrinth is dark and cheerless? Surely, there 
must be light as we proceed, and cheer, as we 
listen with eagerness. The sailor descries the 
land much quicker than the untrained eye of 
the traveller. Still attention enables us to catch 
the very music of the spheres, if only we will it. 
Our elder brothers who have gone before, tell us 
the secret of making progress in the journey, the 
temptations that encounter us on the way, the 
dangers and risks to be avoided all along the 
route. Those who have caught sight of the glow 
on the distant horizon, go into raptures in telling 
the tale of their experience. Those who have gone 
further still and tasted the supreme bliss of the 
highest heights*~the bliss of a true communion, 
find words unequal to the task of expressing the 
intensity of the spiritual joy felt by them at the 

Whatever else God may be, He is undoubtedly 
Love and Bliss, To know Him is to love Him, 

&Ui*J tilVWTTl liARG.iL 4^1 

To realise Him is to enjoy Him. T® vision Hifli 
is bliss ineffable. The end of Vedanta is to vision 
God and become blessed. Therein lies liberation. 
It is the path and the only path, and there is none 
other for this end. II *TRr:q?qrr wwm Unfit II 

Sri Madhva teaches us that the difficult ascent 
cannot be attempted or accomplished without <ytte 
indispensable help, namely, the grace of the 
Almighty At every step, the Divine Grace should 
vivify and inspire us and lead us on. In this 
respect, Sri Madhva's system differs from many 
others. The Adwaitin thinks that when Nescience 
is destroyed by knowledge, release must result as 
a matter of course. They say that knowledge kills 
Nescience by the very essence of its nature, as they 
are natural foes of each other. They say that it is 
impossible to conceive of knowledge otherwise than 
as the destroyer of Nescience. In this system, no 
God's Grace is necessary to interpose between 
knowledge and ingorance. When knowledge is 
once attained, not all the Parabrahmans conceivable 
can stop the attainment of release. Such is the 
argument of the Adwaitic creed. The Sankhyas say 
that Reason discovers the knowledge of truth, 
and that when truth is known, the prison- 
house made of Prakriti crumbles away, 
The union of Purusha (jeeva) with Prakriti is 
Samsara, while their divorce sets the Jeeva free- 
It is the Jeeva's own effort, his unaided struggle, that 
brings about salvation. There is no room for God 
in this system, and much less for His Grace. The 
Yoga of Patanjali admits a god, but makes out a 
thoroughly unconcerned Yogin of the Supreme 
Being. Patanjali thinks that God does not 

4-li .PART II.— TEACHijkGfe Ot Ski MADHVA [cHAF- 

trouble himself with the good and evil of 
mankind, that He is quite unconcerned with 
earthly events, that He is far, far, away, self-con- 
tained and self-satisfied. Such a god has no grace to 
bestow upon his devotees. 

Thus, some of the theistic systems of ancient 
India did not inculcate the immanence of God and 
His merciful Grace to uplift humanity. All the systems 
with one voice admitted the bondage of Prakriti and 
argued about the ways and means for the soul's 
release. How did the Jeeva get into bondage and 
how could he get rid of it ? Sri Madhva thinks that 
the Divine Will is the chief operating cause responsi- 
ble for the bondage, and that Divine Grace is the only 
means of getting rid of it. Apart from its merits as a 
reasoned truth, apart from the authoritative basis on 
which it rests, this view carries dignity on its brow, 
invests God with a truly loveable God-head, and 
makes religious ' struggle ' a labour of love. 

The Sruti declares M$$to fsgpfr ?to &&f : " By him is 
God attained, whom He chooses to grace." Sri Krishna 
says in Bhagavat Gita, rftra SPtfr TB^ *sHfoTT%f WCZl l 
<K*wi4kM<J srrfcr wh snr^rfe 5n*a# 11 " To Him alone 
do thou resort as thy refuge in every way; Through 
His Grace thou shalt attain supreme devotion to Him 
and eternal Peace." wtm *ra W&Gt miwM «wwy« I 

" Let thy mind be in Me, be My votary, be sacri- 
ficer to Me, bow down to Me, Me alone thou shalt 
reach. This is true, I pledge my troth, for thou art 
beloved of Me." 

These and hundreds of other passages in the 
Scriptures lay down that it is God that is pleased to 

tlQ mVRlTTl kARGA. , 4 l t 

lead us in the right path, to equip us for knowledge* 
to bestow Knowledge upon those of us who are 
qualified, to give us, in time, a visual perception of His 
Form, to free us from Samsaric prison, and to grant 
bliss unto us after release We are powerless to 
devise means and ends at any stage of this spiritual 
evolution. Sri Madhva lays the greatest emphasis on 
the Divine Grace- 
Scholars of Purva Meemamsa will see this truth 
about Divine Grace very powerfully expounded by 
Jaimini. Heaven, he maintained, was too good to be 
the subject of barter. No works of any kind, he said, 
could secure us Heaven. It was too glorious, too lofty 
to be taken by storm or bought for a price. It was a 
pure gift of God, out of His Grace, not a position 
claimable as a right. 

God's Grace that it is the end of man to secure, is 
not arbitrarily bestowed, The devotee must struggle 
arid exert himself to win it- God's Will, which is ex- 
pressed in the Scriptures, lays down a course of pen- 
ance and studies as a preparation. It is this that the 
Uttara Meemamsa treatises discuss at great length. 

The question then is, what are we to do to secure 
Divine Grace? How will He be pleased to turn to 
us, and shower Bliss on our parched heads ? The 
optimistic ideal of the west seems to be that life 
is not only worth living, but there is nothing else 
worth aspiring for. Gold is there worshipped 
with fervour. There, the scramble for the nugget 
at the mines takes place with maddening frenzy 
and fever. Material prosperity is the only goal 
kept in view. This is optimism with a vengeance. 
The eastern ideal is totally different. We agree 


in the spirit of the Christian saying that it 
is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a 
needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of 
God. Narayana the Supreme Being is a friend of the 
poor and the destitute. He is naturally in- 
accessible to those who are absorbed in the worship 
of Mammon. 

Section i- Vyragia. 

The devotee should first of all learn lessons in 
Vyragia before he enters on the sacred studies. 
Vyragia is literally 'dispassion'. In this word lies 
summed up a whole philosophy of conduct. The theory 
of Vyragia presses the transitoriness of life upon our 
constant attention. It calls on us to remember death 
always and be prepared against its advent. 

" Do good to-day, time passes, death is near 
Death falls upon a man all unawares 
Like a ferocious wolf upon a sheep. 
Death comes when his approach is least expected ; 
Death sometimes seizes ere the work of life 
Is finished or its purposes accomplished. 
Death carries off the weak and strong alike 
The brave and timorous, the wise and foolish, 
And those whose objects are not yet achieved. 
Therefore delay not. Death may come to-day, 
Death will not wait to know if thou art ready 
Or if thy work be done. Be active now 
While thou art young, and time still thy own ; 
This very day, perform to-morrow's work, 
This very morning, do thy evening's task ; 
When duty is discharged, then if thou live. 
Honour and happiness will be thy lot 
And if thou die, supreme beatitude. 


XIII.] VYRAG1A. 4tf 

We forget death, and live a life of the senses 
with such an amount of all-absorbing earnestness, as to 
multiply the terrors of death a thousand-fold when it 
makes an approach and reminds us of its grim 
presence. We seldom remember that life is only a 
fleeting pastime. Pleasure and pain are possible only 
when attachment subsists between the Jeeva and the 
objects of sense. It is the feeling of me and mine that 
gives birth to joy and grief. He who adumbrates 'my' 
with an emphasis, and surrounds himself with a large 
circle or group of possessions distinguished by that 
epithet, doting with fondness on my children, my 
beloved, my house, my property, 'with a big 'my 1 
always looming in the mind, must be prepared for 
these beloved objects of his turning out his bitter 
enemies someday, and robbing him of peace and 
rest- Desire and attachment begetting likes and 
dislikes, passion and prejudice, are the fertile sources 
of man's miseries. 

All the philosophies of India have been un- 
animous in denouncing desire and attachment as 
our worst enemies, and laying down rules to destroy 
them. Some of them have exhorted men to do very 
strange things indeed. The Yoga philosophy, for 
instance, inculcated asceticism, Raja Yoga, and Hata 
Yoga. Renunciation and asceticism, promulgated 
by Patanjali's system would, if systematically 
and universally practised, dismember and dis- 
integrate society in a decade. Patanjali believ- 
ed in tortures of the flesh to cut the gordian 
knot. Desire was to be smothered by impossible 
postures, agonizing immolations oi muscle, and 
tortures of breaths, resulting in disorders of thfc 
brain* This was deemed the only mode of conquering 
Prakrit i, 


As a contrast, it is refreshing to turn to the 
Bhagavat Gita, and learn what Sri Krishna inculcates 
on the subject 4 . He says that no body need resort to 
the forest, or renounce society, as a preparation for 
spirituality. There is no need for self-immolation of 
any kind. There is no need to abandon ties of kith 
and kin, or neglect duties political, social, or moral. 
True renunciation consists, according to Sri Krishna, 
in abandoning and resigning unto God, the fruits of 
action. Every one should do his duty for duty's sake, 
should love God for God's sake. " You are competent 
to work. But the fruit of it is in My hands" says He 
to Arjuna. 'Do not worry yourselves over fruits. Do 
your duty manfully, because it is your duty. Let not 
the prospect of reward be the incentive for your 
actions. Whatever you do, dedicate it unto Me,' is the 
earnest exhortation. 

Here is a sublime ideal to follow. What is to be 
renounced is not duty, is not activities, but the worry 
of likes and dislikes, the hope and anxiety about 
rewards and consequences — the hallucination that man 
is an actor, is a free agent. What we are asked to 
do is to resign ourselves unty His Will, surrrender our 
activities unto Him, rely on His wisdom absolutely, to 
guide us, in short, realise our dependence on Him out 
and out. It matters not whether we are Brahmachar- 
ins, householders, hermits, or ascetics. The only 
condition is that we form no ties of attachment, and 
encourage no egotism of 'me' and 'mine'. 

To withdraw from attachment from sense-objects, 
while living and moving amongst them and actively 
dealing with them in the discharge of our duties, is the 
paramount secret of lopping offthe fetters that hold us 
bound. To think deeply over the matter what are 

£t|Lj VYRAG1A. 41 f 

these sense-objects worth, that they should enstaVe 

our emotions and hold us in perpetual thraldcra, 

The Bhagavat Geeta sets its face strongly 

against the practice of making religious offerings for 

the sake of rewards. It condemns duty performed With 

a purpose, whatever that may be. It gives no 

encouragement to the view that reduces religious 

observances to the sordid level of contracts. He who 

loves God in order to obtain a return is a trader, 

trafficking in religion, Sri Krishna will be no party 

to such a barter. It seems to be perfectly reasonable 

that no mundane object should be allowed to worry us 

and pilfer our mental repose. A trust in God gives us 

true happiness, but a trust in man, in kith and kin, 

in wealth and effects, does not bring us peace. 

41 Man wants but little here below, 
Nor wants that little long. " 

Life is truly a span and earthly bliss but a bubble. 
It is not illusory, it is not unreal, but it is evanescent, 
and is transitory. Realising this fully, we should rate 
our worldly belongings at no more than their true 
worth. What is life after all, health, wealth, power^ 
fame, and all. By itself it is nothing, nothing at all 
When it is turned towards the source of all, when 
health is used to sing His praise, • wealth to bestow 
charity, power to glorify His name, fame to publish 
His greatness, they have a meaning and a purpose. 
Otherwise, these little bubbles, liable to burst at * 
a breath, are not worth looking at. A great 
writer says "O Vanity, O airy nothing! Vanity of 
vanities, all is vanity!" Health is but an empty name, 
life, a troubled dream, and celebrity, a fugitive 
raetemf* Solomon feea4s his vmrk*w&h the$e w®4% 



" Vanity of Vanities ; all is Vanity." Everything is 
vain and unimportant that relates to man, when we 
remember the transitory course of his, mortality. 
Everything becomes dignified when we look to the 
g;oal to which he is hastening. 

As a stream glides rapdily along, thus flows 
the course of our existence, which, having; 
traversed, with more or less noise, a greater 
or less extent of country, disembogues at 
length into a dark gulf where honours, distinc- 
tions, arid worldly prerogatives are unacknowledged 
and unknown, like rivers which lose their name and 
their celebrity when they mingle with the ocean. 

Let us gratefully remember that God infuses into 
our perishable frame a spiritual power which can 
acknowledge the truth of His existence, adore the 
redundant plenitude of His Perfections, rely on 
His Goodness, fear His Justice, and aspire to 
Heaven. Vairagya then is renunciation in a 
technical sense, viz. dedication of all activity 
unto God. It implies withdrawal of attachment 
from sense-objects, a subjugation of likes and 
dislikes, and a conquest of egotism by a trustful 
dependence on God. It implies a control of mental 
faculties and a discipline of the senses. No Vairagya 
is possible without Shama and Dama, which mean 
steadiness of mind, and singleness of purpose. When 
the mind is a weathercock responding to every gust 
of hope and desire, the passions run riot, and concen- 
tration is an impossibility. No religious life is possible 
unless the mind shines bright and smokeless, like a 
flame well protected from the breeze. 

snwiw Tfipi f^c 316ft *OTfa w 1 3& jwcftftftr *wt 

Xrti.] VyrAgiA. 4^ 

# ' Krtoto the self the chariot-owner, the body the 
chariot; know reason the charioteer and the mind as 
the reins. They call the senses the horses, sense- 
objects then 4 province. The self joined to the senses 
and mind, is the enjoyer, thus say the wise. Whoever 
is ignorant, always with the mind loose, his senses are 
uncontrolled, like bad horses of the charioteer- 
Whoever is wise, always with mind tightened, his 
senses are controlled, like good horses of the charioteer 
Whoever indeed is ignorant, thoughtless, always 
impure, ho does not obtain the goal, but comes again, 
into Samsara." 

Thus proclaims the Sruti. It is a fundamental step 
in the path that the mind should be got to be steady. 
As Arjuna declares again and again, mind is very 
hard to govern and control, but no spiritual progress 
is possible till that is drilled into obedience. A blazing 
fire cannot be extinguished by means of ghee poured 
into it. So, sensuous appetite cannot be put out by 
free play given to it and endless gratification procured 
for it. Subjugation of desire is indispensable for 
bringing the mind under control. This subjugation 
consists in dedicating all actions unto God as meant 
wholly and solely to please Him. 

Yoga is the generic term in Sanskrit for this dedi- 
cation. It means union literally. He who offers 
all his doings (Karma) unto God is aS ICarnta Yo^ta, 
f6f he tries to seek union (not unity) with God by thi§ 


s^f?£i^r. J&e. who seeks union by knowledge ? *■ is 
Qimana Yogin, The wise Rishis seek Jfteaven by 
constant devotion to study and intense knowledge and 
taeditatidh! He who cultivates to;(? of Corf by good 
W6rks, and ' sbimd knowledge, is a Bhakti Yogitl. By 
the blessing of God, Devas attain this God-love in a 
superior measure. It is common ground for all these 
classes of worshippers that all of them seek to reach 
God as the goal. Their hearts yearn after Him. They 
'are not happy until they are gathered up in His busom, 
never more to revert to Samsara, 

Yoga is thus not a technical name for the science 
of breaths alone. Sri Madhva does not put this science 
out of court altogether. He concedes that, meditation 
by harnessing breaths, restraining respiration, taking 
postures, focussing eyes on the tip of the nose and 
thoughts on Om, has its value. But this kind of Yoga 
is not indispensable. 

As indicated above, there arc 3 classes of devotees 
who are all on the right path, Karma Yogins, Gnana 
Yogins and Bhakti Yogins. Temperaments, capacity, 
and aptitude, determine the class to which any Jeeva 
belongs, All men in general are fit for being Karma 
Yogins alone. They cannot help being ceaselessly 
engaged in works. Their salvation lies through 
works. Dedication of fruits qK^Hl is the (Yoga) means 
ior them. 

ir^if^ ^rapBrrt^r ^R^ti^r ^o^f ^.« 

^i^M^ife 4fa$f asf^r *n^w 11 

Says Sri Krishna : "Whatever you do, or eat, or 
sacrifice, or gift away, whatever austerity you perform, 
Arjuna, offer it all unto Me." Other passages may 

*ml] VyrA6iA. 4$$ 

be quoted in aimndance to the same effect. But one 
or two must suffice. 

(Bhagavata XI, 2. 36J 
TO T* wft ^ ^ iwrwh tSr *i 1 

(Bhagavata XI, 3. 29.) 

The sentiment in these passages is self-surrender in 
the discharge of duties. 

Higher beings, Rishis as they are called, are fit 
for Gnana Yoga. Not that they are free from works 
altogether, but they are eminently introspective. 
Philosophy and meditation is their forte, as works are 
the forte of Karma Yogins. 

Beings higher still in spiritual worth, are Bhakti 
Yogins. A whole-hearted love of God is their Forte. 
Their spiritual capacity admits of a surrender of heart 
in a measure and to an extent that the other classes 
are not capable of. It is Devas that mostly belong to 
this order. 

It must however be borne in mind that the differ- 
ence implied in this classification is one of degree 
alone. Karma, Gnana, and Bhakti, are not three 
different paths leading independently of one another to a 
common destination. They are merely several stages 
in a single path. Every Karma Yogi is bound to study 
the scriptures, acquire knowledge (Gnana), develop 
Bhakti, and vision God, so that by His Grace, he might 
be saved. Every Gnana Yogi must surrender his 
doings unto God, acquire knowledge, and practise 

4«4 PART II.— TEACfit«6S Ofr SRI Madhva [CHAP. 

devotkm. Every Bhakti Yogi also should dd likewise; 
The difference lies in the preponderance of the parti- 
cular element *to which the Jeeva is by inherent nature 
and aptitude capacitated. 

Religious life manifests itself in the triple form of 
Conduct, Doctrine, and Devotion. We have to serve God 
by deporting ourselves as His humble servants, by 
subordinating our will to the Divine will, and by 
ceaseless service rendered unto Him and unto His 
Bhaktas. We have to serve and glorify God by 
studying and realising the truths of Veda, by believing 
in a system of holy doctrines, by a firm grasp of Sri 
Madhva's philosophy in respect to God, Soul, and 
Nature. We have to serve God by means of devotion, 
by turning sublime love unto Him. 

Our^conduct, the expression of our will, becomes 
religious in so far as our volition is merged in the 
Divine. This embraces not only ritualism, but every 
activity of man in relation to God and God's Bhaktas. 
This is the Province of Karma Yoga. Religious con- 
duct is not possible and cannot endure without a 
grounding of Philosophy, the product of intellect. 
This is the Province of Gnana Yoga. Will and intel- 
lect are utterly inadequate to make us happy unless 
we call in emotion to express itself in devotion and 
complete the service. This is Bhakti Yoga. The three 
Yogas embrace between them, the functions of Will, 
Intellect, and Emotion, and therefore cover the en- 
tire province of the human mind. By Karma alone, 
no salvation is possible. It was Bh&ttas that put 
forward works such as sacrifices as capable, by 
themselves, of leading to Heaven. Giver* abundant 
wealth, they thought that tons of ghee poured Mf<> the 
fire accompanied by mechanical Mantra-re&tartk>tt$, 

WW*} WfAKTI. 4«g 

must open the gates of the highest Heaven to the 
Sacrificer. Sri Madhva opposes this view. The 
corner-stone of his theology is soul-deciication. No 
manual service or lip-service is of any value, if npt 
accompanied by knowledge and Bhakti. Good works, 
fastings, penance, charity, and so on, are useful to bring 
about a steadiness and purity of mind. But this is only 
a preparation and no more. A pure and steady mind is 
essential for acquisition ot knowledge. Sat Karma, or 
good works, represent, therefore, only the preliminary 
process necessarily to be passed through before true 
knowledge can be gained, A study of the scriptures, 
consisting of lectures heard, lessons ruminated, and 
the gist meditated upon, produces sound knowledge, 
It enables us to realize God's greatness and our own 
littleness, God's independence and our own dependence 
on Him. Knowledge thus acquired produces Bhakti 
(love of God). By the grace oi God, the Bhakta visions 
the Almighty, This vision evokes the higher grace 
of God that leads the Bhakta into Vykunta. 

The third Adhyaya of the Brahma Sootras lays 
down Vairagya, Bhakti, Upasana, and Aparokshagnana 
as the stages to be passed through by every Mumuk- 
shu (aspirant for Heaven), be he a Karma Yogin,Gnana 
Yogip, or Bhakti Yogin. Vairagya or dispassion has; 
been explained above at some length. Let me say a 
few words about each of the others. 

Section ii ; Bhakti. 

By this term, Sri Madhva understands every shade 
of the heart's yearning towards God. While Vairagya 
cgnnotes the negative aspect, a state of passivity and re- 
n^pciatio^^hakti denotes the positive aspect,an active 
lodging, 3 st£t$ of love, an outpouring of devot;idt* r 


reverence, awe, and admiration, a surrender of the 
soul in melting tenderness. 

There have heen cults in India that ruled by fear 
and dread. Demon-worship has dominated for ages 
past. Kali, Durga, Chandika, Ambika, Mari, Ayanar, 
and hosts of deities still reign supreme in rural parts, 
working upon the fears and superstitions of people, 
and exacting offerings of blood. Not a disease, not a 
disorder physical or mental, but might, in the belief of 
people, be averted by the propitiation of a demon or 
spirit. It was supposed that we are living in a reign 
of terror, the unseen spirits waging war with 
us on every side and levying terrible penal- 
ties as the price of their favours. Fear is the ruling 
idea of this cult. 

Bhakti is something quite different. Love is the 
ruling key-note of this faith. The Bhakta approaches 
God freely and frankly, and offers Him his best posess- 
sion viz., his self. The heart is given up, and the soul 
is surrendered, unto God. The Bhakta annihilates 
himself in the abandon of affection. He may worship 
God as his Father, as his Brother, as his Son, as his 
Friend, or as his Beloved. It is not wealth that is 
offered, nothing earthly, nothing sordid, but the Atma 
himself. It is the sacrifice of self unto the Supreme 
Self, Atma Yagna, that is the end and aim of Bhakti* 
The archer shoots his own Atma to strike at Brahman 
the butt, and be swallowed up therein. 

The basic idea of Bhakti is a consciousness, a real- 
ization of the Bhakta's inferiority to, and dependence 
on, God. If man and God be identical in any sense, 
no Bhakti is possible. Where " I am He " is felt, 
Bhakti refuses to germinate. The soil is unfit for this 
plant. A feeling that God is infinitely greater than 


Xlll4 BHAKTI*. :■;<,:. 4^5* 

all ^ther Jeevas^ that His infinity is unbridgeable, 
thai He is just, merciful and gracious, and that, if He 
choose, He will lift up the tiny Jeeva to beatitude, is a 
condition precedent to the germination of BhaktL 

The Vaishnavaism of Sri Ramanuja and of Srt 
Chaitanya insists on this consciousness as well as tha£ 
of Sri Madhva. Sri Madhva goes further than Sri 
Ramanuja, and insists that even in the state of filial 
beatitude, the released soul enjoys only limited bliss 
and continues infinitely inferior to God. Thus it is, 
that, while Adwaita appeals to the intellecttand make? 
religion an affair of the head, the Vaishnava makes 
religion essentially an affair of the heart. 

The most valuable possession of man is love, God 
has implanted in human nature nothing more sublime 
than this sentiment. All systems of philosophy call God 
the essence of Love or Bliss. Man, as the image 
of His maker, has his essence too made of love. To 
love is the noblest enjoyment of man in religious as 
in secular life. The heart moves outward like the 
tendrils of a creeper and seeks something to rest upon* 
The soul moves outward too, and wants to rest oh 
God. The love-emotion is a necessity of our being. 
Turned towards unworthy objects, it is chilled- 
Turned towards God the worthiest of the worthy, it 
meets with a stimulus responsive of its highest 
aspirations, a home of bliss simply ineffable. Will man 
feel the force of this truth and drink of the joys of 
Heaven by self-surrender (prapatti) ? Will he beepme 
a Bhakta rather than a Gnani ? Will he be a w^ip 
gurgling fountain of love rather than be a blpck 
pf ice frozen by intellectuality? In words of fire, Sri 
M##iy^ appeals to the higher nature pt man \o elect 
between the two. 


The love of God implied by Bhakti Is not a very 
simple sentiment It is an organic growth, the product 
of careful rearing. No man can dream himself into a 
noble character by a simple effort of the will, and rise 
one morning to find himself bloomed into a Bhakta. 
Struggle is the school of evolution in nature. Difficul- 
ties, temptations, pitfalls* and failures, constitute the 
experiences necessary to build up character. 

The heart requires as careful an education as the 
head, in order that it may truly and sincerely be con- 
secrated to the Supreme Being. No organic growth is 
possible without a slow, constant, assimilation of 
nutrition, and acquisition of experience, without a 
struggle against trials and surviving them to get better 
and better. A study of the Shastras is the first step 
in this education. A constant study alone 
is calculated to impress God on our hearts* It is 
only the scriptures that can dispel all shades of 
doubt and hesitation, from our minds. A strong 
and vigorous faith is one of the first requisites 
for Bhakti. Have the Scriptures dispelled all 
doubt? Are you firm, truly and sincerely, in the 
belief of Divine Supremacy ? Are you prepared to 
stake all as a test of earnestness ? Then, and not till 
then, can you relax your studies. 

Moralists are well aware 6f the golden fule 
fepeatedly and prominently emphasised in Christian 
writings as the highest philosophy of human conduct. 
" Do unto others as you would wish they should do urtto 
you " is indeed a golden maxim presenting a very high 
ideal of virtue. But this was not unknown to our 
ancients. In the Bhagvat Geeta and the Mdhabhafata, 
this sentlmeht is strongly inculcated as the fcumtetfon 
of social morality. 

XtliJ BHAItfl. 4^/ 

"This is the sum of all true righteousness. 
Treat others, as thou wouldst thyself he treated. 
Do nothing to thy neighbour which hereafter ' 
Thou wouldst not have thy neighbour do to thee. 
Xn causing pleasure, or in giving pain 
In doing good or injury to others 
In granting or refusing a requst 
A man obtains a proper rule of acting 
By looking on his neighbour as himself. 
Do naught to others, which if, done to thee, 
Would cause thee pain ; this is the sum of duty." 
■ . • M. B V. 1$1J7. 

This sovereign of virtues only exhorts us however 
to put ourselves on a level of equality with others. 
When men are dominated by egotism, they set them- 
selves in opposition to the world, the " 1-ness " trying 
to vanquish every other interest in the world. But 
for the Police and the Penal Code, egotism would set 
the world on fire. When law and morality curb the 
" I-ness " within bounds, the conflict still subsists 
underground, and manifests itself in subtle outbursts, 
without a flagrant violation of decency. He who 
closely observes the language, conversation, and 
deportment of even refined society, can read the under- 
current of egotistic vanity which ever displays 
itself openly or covertly, "/said this, / said that, / 
did this, and / did that : Therefore how wise was /, 
how brave, how plucky, how clever ! M This is the 
chorus right through, the suggestion being that nobody 
else is capable oi so much wisdom and so much 
cleverness and so on. This is how the world is 
normally constituted. This is the mental attitude in 
which, the ' I-ness ' of every individual asserts itself .as 


a superior tactor and claims mastery and victory over 
the ' Inness ' of all other individuals. 

The golden rule of conduct adverted to above, 
brings down man from this attitude of conceit and self- 
assertion, and reduces him to a level of equality with 
others. ' Do as you would be done by ' sets up self 
as the standard of judgment. This, however, is not 
the crowning stage. It is reserved for the religion of 
Bhakti to soar higher still, if possible, and reach the 
climax. The self-assertive * I ' vanishes into unimport- 
ance when the soul is pervaded by Bhakti. 'Aham' 
claims neither superiority nor equality, but relegates 
itself into nothing, as against other Bhaktas and God. 
The beauty of the Bhakta consists in the utter self- 
effacement of which he is capable, in the service 
and sacrifice of which he is capable, and in the utter 
self-effacement in which he glories. 

A Bhakta is one who treats his personal self as an 
altogether negligible quantity. He has no will of his 
own. He has no wants, no wishes of any kind. God 
Almighty absorbs all his mind and energy. He is mad 
with delight. He derives supreme happiness from 
giving himself up to please God and His Bhaktas. He 
looks upon God's devotees as a brotherhood unto 
whose serivce he dedicates himself. He is prepared 
for any sacrifice on their behalf. He loves all that are 
dear to God and gives a wide berth to every one 
else. His world is circumscribed and limited by 
God's Bhaktas. To all else he is indifferent. 

In this connection, it may be useful to remove a 
prevailing misapprehension. It is usually supposed 
that Sri Madhva pleads for strong likes and dislikes, 
and that he inclucates a bigotry and hatred of other 

sectarians Sri Madhva does not tolerate any low or 
hatred except in relation to God. He exhorts men to 
love God, and ergo, to love all godly nujn. He exhorts 
hatred of God's enemies, because they are enemies of 
God. The hatred is not personaland selfish. No lover, 
can be truly such unless his likes and dislikes chime 
in with those of his beloved. Sri Madhva advocates 
hatred of all that is unpleasant to God,— a hatred of 
unrighteous and ungodly life out and out. It is not 
true Bhakti, if the Bhakta can effect a compromise 
with irreligion in any form or shape. 

Even in the Advanced Text Book, Sanatana Dhar- 
ma, it is stated (P./315) u Dwesha is to be eliminated 
entirely in personal relations, in relations between 
man and man, between one being and another being 
and is to be retained only as an Abstract dislike for 
anything that goes against the law, against the will 
of Ishwara." 

Sri Madhva says similarly that we should revere 
the gods, and love our fellows, only because they are 
dear to God. We should be cold and apathetic to 
Rajasas and should dislike the Tamasas, for one 
reason and only one, viz. that the former are cold 
towards God and the latter hate Him. 

Sri Madhva defines Bhakti as love induced by a 
conviction of Divine Greatness — the conviction being 
the result of sacred studies. According to the Master, 
the elements of Bhakti are (1) study (2) conviction 
(3) love, Without study and without an intelligent 
appreciation or admiration, no love can possibly arise, 
and much less can it endure. 

It is a futile attempt to describe what are the 
characteristics of a true Bhakta. Those who have 

430 I'AftT 1 1.— TEACHINGS Of SftI MADrtVA [CfiUUfc. 

studied the psychology of love, and analysed, watched, 
and noted the movements of lovers t may have an idea 
of what a 'Bhakta looks like. The description of Radha 
in Devi Bhagavata makes an approach towards a 
delineation. Sri Madhva, the best of Yekanta BhakWte, 
is tf*e loftiest object-lesson on the subject, the embodi- 
ment, as he was, of true love based on flawless 

The only power that can purge our hearts of sin is 
the Love of God. The only power that can set fire to 
the hay-rick of Karma is the grace of God invoked by 
BhaktL There is then no virtue which is not a 
manifestation or expression of Bhakti. Sri Ramanuja 
says that : 

Kalyana Purity 

Satyam Truthfulness 

Arjavam Rectitude 

Daya Compassion 

Danam Charity 

Ahimsa Inoffensiveness 

Anavasada Cheerfulness 
mark the Bhakta. 

With the buoyance ol love elevating his soul, the 
Bhakta has no occasion to be pessimistic and down- 
hearted, and no reason to be moody. He sees only 
roses strewn about him, and he dedicates them to the 
idol of his heart, Sri Vishnu. srut qft$$r fowrt: 

fa*& ^4«to«i^yij?rii ftra^r wrawanr ^^s^tn^m II are 

the noble words of Prahlada in the 7th Skandha of 
Sreemad Bhagavatam. This passage sums up the 
characteristic doings of a true Bhakta. 

xmf UPASANA. 4%l 

It conveys the following ideas: — "The cfcVOtee 
spfehds his time in listening to sacred stories. He is 
£ager to hear God's praise sung. H£ is constantly 
uttering the Divine name, and singing hymns, sonnets, 
and ballads, relating to Narayana, Krishna and other 
Avatars of God. His memory is well stocked with 
episodes narrated in books, and he is ever engaged in 
adding to the stock and drawing upon the 
recollection. He invokes God in an image or in some 
holy personage, and serves Him in the substitute, like 
a distracted lover doting on a momento of the absent 
beloved, and addressing words of endearment thereto. 
He shampoos the Lord's feet, offers incense and 
flowers, sings the Lord's praise, and offefs himself 
as a slave. To crown all, he offers up his soul as 
an utter surrender in affection. These nine indica- 
tions of Bhakti betoken the highest education of man, 
(3?r5tag*tfr) says Prahlada, and sure enough they do. 

Section 3. Upasana. 

Upasana is only a higher stage of Bhakti. In 
this condition, the devotee renounces the world and 
makes great advance in spiritual education. He 
makes a profound study of the sacred works, with- 
draws himself thoroughly from worldly pursuits, and 
spends long periods of introspective thought. To kith 
and kin, to friends and foes, to pleasure and pain, 
he is equally indifferent and absent-minded* Reverie 
is his chief pastime, meditation is his activity. Th£ 
centre on which his thoughts are focussed h of 
course God and godly men. 

In this stage, the devotee knows the ShftHftf 
though and through. The conclusions of Vedanta 
mt defcf>ly ingrained in his mental and spiritual 


constitution. He ruminates them, over ^nd over 
again, He chews the cud of all his studies, and 
gets them well digested and assimilated into 
his spiritual life. It may be that he withdraws 
himself from home and society, and repairs to solitudes, 
or he may choose to continue a worldly man 
for all appearance. Wherever he may be, and what- 
ever his surroundings, he is a mental recluse, who is 
able, automatically, to withdraw his senses from 
external objects like a tortoise drawing in its limbs. 

Upasana is the final preparation and probation 
for God-Vision known as Aparoksha. As the God- 
Vision varies in splendour and duration with the 
capacity, aptitude, and rank, of each individual soul, the 
period of probation is proportionately long or short. The 
study and contemplation of Upasana is naturally 
prolonged and intense in the souls that are destined for 
a prolonged God- Vision of great intensity. Brahma, 
Vayu, Rudra and the higher gods, undergo Upasana 
for very long periods of time, because, the reward 
they attain, at last, is proportionate to their qualifica- 
tion. Frail man is not equal to such long-continued 
penance, nor is he capable of standing a God-Vision 
of the duration and the intensity that the gods are 
capable of. 

Works, knowledge, and devotion, are common to 
all, whatever the stage and the capacity. Turned 
Godwards, these lead the devotee nearer and nearer to 
the goal According to their ability, they may resort 
to images in aid of worship or they may meditate on 
God immanent in the Universe. They may be 
mfl*M*Hl :or ^u#M&«14U according to the degree of 
their innate spiritual strength. They may be Karrfla 
Yogins, or Gn na Yogins, on the same principle. The 

Xllt.] UPASANA. 433 

general course for each is still the same; works, 
knowledge and devotion, the preponderating element 
being different with each Jeeva according- to hi$ fitness. 

Our books give a long list of Bhakti Yogins count- 
ing from Karmaja Devas up to the Four-faced Brahma. 
These are seers of God's omnipresence, souls above 
the plane of image-worship and worship in 
limited forms. These are Sdmsa Jeevas, that is, capable 
of taking more than one body at a time. Gnana Yogins 
comprise Deva Gandharvas, and some lower deities. 
These are Pratikalambanas. These Jeevas are also 
capable of taking more than one birth at a time by 
splitting themselves into parts and assuming various 
bodies- Karma Yogins are mostly among human 
beings. They are Niramsas, that is incapable of taking 
more than one body at a time, being incapable of split- 
ting themselves into parts. 

There is great difference among the Jeevas in res- 
pect to their power of concentration and meditation. 
No soul is capable of grasping all the attributes of 
the Infinite. Each soul selects that attribute, or 
group of attributes, that is suited i to its capacity, and 
ponders over it. Some worship God, for instance, as 
Intelligence. Others, as Intelligence, Being, Bliss, 
and Immanence, and so on. On this capacity and 
training, depends the vision-form (ftwnitrajr) that will 
stand before the Upasaka on the eve of redemption. 

According to Sri Madhva's theology, Jeevas 
are competent to worship God only through 
Mukhya Prana, the Lord of Breaths. The theory 
is that as Vayu or Mukhya Prana is the presiding 
deity of Life and dwells within every Jeeva, the 
latter cannot approach the Lord except through 



'Sri Lakshmi is competent to contemplate -God 
and worship him directly. The Four-faced Brahma 
and Vayu worship the Supreme Spirit dwelling, in 
their own souls. But all the Jeevas lower down 
in rank have to worship the Lord as the in- 
dweller qf Prana. By offering worship to his 
in-dweller of Prana we pay homage to both. We 
oqtyin the grace of Prana who will make the 
way easy for reaching the Lord. 

Sri Madhva's system is somewhat unique in accor- 
ding to this Deity the highest rank in the hierarchy of 
gods, next to Narayana, Lakshmi and Brahma. This 
view seems amply borne out by the Scriptures. It is 
impossible to conceive of creation without vibration. 
Akasa and the rest vibrate under the action and 
impulse of Prana. Swami Vivekananda quotes the 
Sruti " qffo Ww «WcH$ groq^rfofo^ar " declaring that 
'everything in the Universe has been projected, Prana 
vibrating 5 ; this view supports the pre-eminence of this 
deity. It is Prana that is the author of the 
five-fold functions denoted by Prana, Apana, Vyana, 
Udana, and Samana, breaths. These five are the 
servants of the chief whom we adore. 

" This Prana is underneath, overhead, and in the 
middle. He is on all sides : He is the cause of all" 
says Vayu Prokta* 

«W&4HW*H vote h " nmgstt%n 

In Brihat Samhitait is stated "The ear and the 
other senses together with the mind and thought all 
form only twelve organs. They are called Indrias 
(senses) because they pass outward to the object 5 and 

IM'1 UPASANA. 435 

the all-powerful Prana standing firm in his placte, is 
guiding all" Even when the Jeeva is asleep, it is the 
chief Prana and his five servants, that qre av^ake and 
are doing their function to keep the body alive. 

Numerous texts have been cited in Madhwa writ- 
ings in proof of Pi ana's position as the Universal P<?r- 
vader of all Jeevas and as an inseparable companion 
of the Lord. vr&[ «iw«wi< sfa r%£%*n stcttcr* is a sample 
to indicate the drift of the teaching that he stands 
in the middle and all the gods do him homage, * His 
position in the middle means that he is the ii^ter- 
mediary between all beings on the one hand and the 
Supreme Lord on the other. 

As the head of the hierarchy and the First Born 
in creation, (being equal in position to the Four- 
faced Brahma), it is in him that all the lower 
beings involute and dissolve, at the end of evey 
Mahakalpa. It is therefore his privilege to lead 
the hosts to the river ot Immortality and tide 
them over to liberation. 

As explained in a previous chapter, every 
form of being gets infolded into the parent-form 
out of which it had sprung : e.g. earth, into 
water, water into fire, fire into air, and the air into 
Akasa, and so on, up to Mahat, the Gunas, and 
Avyakta. On the plane of chit-beings, the same law of 
involution and evolution holds good from the lowest 
worm-life imaginable up to Prana* This deity stands at 
the top of the scale, and is as such privileged to get the 
whole hosts infolded into him and unfolded out of him, 
fronj time to time. If this law of nature be rational, 
the theory of all Jeevas worshipping God in and 
through Prana is quite intelligible. Prana, the 
presiding deity of life and energy, is the appro 


priate functionary of God to give us vigour and 
strength in our trials, to sustain us in our efforts, 
and strengthen us for the task of realising God. 
To invoke him is to acquire fortitude and 
courage in climbing the hill of religious duty. 
This, in brief, is the outline of the theory. It 
has been the theme of grievous errors and misconcep- 
tions, some of our critics going so far as to say that 
it is an idea borrowed from Christian theology. 

Treatises on Yoga philosophy go into every minute 
details in describing and laying down the nutdns 
operandi of a true Upasaka. The great object to be 
attained is the one-pointed mind able to divert its 
attention from external nature and fix itself on God. 
The mind, which is nothing if not vibration and motion, 
cannot be got under control, without laborious practice 
and severe drill. The training necessarily involves 
great strain at the outset, and considerable physical 
torture. It is a process of taking the enemies' out- 
posts by storm, unlike the easy and slow methods 
of works, study, and devotion, available to all. 
Persons of exceptional courage alone are capable 
of the enormous determination and will-power 
necessary to carry out the Yogic practices with 

Patanjali lays down, and in this, other Hindu 
writers concur, that Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, 
Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi are 
the eight Angas (limbs) of Yoga. They relate 
to disciplines of every kind calculated to subdue a 
wavering mind. In ordinary parlance, Yama stands 
for self-control, and the observance of every moral 
and religious duty. The duties are enumerated 
variously as follows : 

%lMi.) tlFASAfctA. 4$$ 

'" v-: 3. 313. 

The list comprises all the noble virtues including 
truthfulless and tenderness to animal life. Patanjali 
considers Yama as the first step in the practice of 
Yoga, using the term in a technical sense, and convey- 
ing, thereby, the idea of self-control of every shade 
and degree. 

$iyama is regularity of self-imposed vows and 
observances. There are 10 forms ot this, enumerated. 

This includes penances and austerities of every 

Asana deals with fixed postures as powerful aids 
to contemplation. 

Prdndydma and Pratyahara deal with the suspen- 
sion and recovery of breaths. During the mental 
recitation of the names and attributes, restraint of 
breath is very helpful to promote retention in 

Dharana in common parlance is retentive memory. 
Patanjali inculcates a suspended breath as essential for 
a steady abstraction of mind, for a collection of ideas so 
as to be one-pointed. 

Dhyana is the higher stage of meditation, in which 
a mental repersentation occurs of the attributes of the 
Supreme Being- 

•43$ PART II. — ffiACtlt-RteS OF SRl MADMVA [ottAfr. 

Saw^rf/uis ttiei crowniiig- step iw rwhieh perfect 
absorption of thought -.toectir$< into tjte } ©bject of 
meditation, viz. } the Supreme Spirit. It is the state 
in which the avenues of the 10 senses are closed 
against the external world- 

Sceptics are reluctant to believe the possibility 
of Samadhi as a scientific fact in nature. Physiology 
and psychology, as understood so iar, seems to 
laugh it out of court. But the sceptic will pause 
before ridiculing the idea and dismissing it as 
untenable. There seems to be reliable testimony 
recorded about it in the works of Professor 
Wilson, Monier Williams, and other European 
savants of Oriental scholarship. Proof of this kind 
is not to be lightly rejected. 

The Vllth Act of Sakuntala contains a remarkable 
verse describing the Samadhi of a Rishi. It speaks 
of a sage whose body stood immoveable like the 
trunk of a tree, half buried in an ant-hill, with his 
breast closely encircled by snake-skins. Such was 
the impassiveness of this ascetic that ants had thrown 
up their mound as high as his waist without being 
disturbed, and birds had built their nests in his 
hair. Sir Monier Williams quotes this sloka in the 
'Indian wisdom, ' and vouches for the possibility 
of such a Samadhi by quoting a remarkable instance 
of the kind that had come under his own observation. 

In September 1887, a remarkable incident is said 
to have occured at Darjeling. A Lama performed a won- 
derful feat in the presence of many witnesses. An eye- 
witness states, "suddenly he, still retaining his sitting 
posture, rose perpendicularly into air to the height of, 
I should say, two cubits, and then floated without a 

Xl ^3\ UPASANA. ^g 

tremor or motion of a single muscle, like a cork in still 
water. (R 293, Hindu Superiority). 

.In 1837, a Fakir of Lahore engaged to hury 
himself for any length of time in a box. Maharaja 
Ranjit Singh allowed the experiment under the strictest 
watcji. He continued buried in a box for 40 days 
and nights. When it was opened at last, the Fakir 
came put hale and hearty. Dr. Macgregor records 
this sconce at some length in his ' History of the 
Sikhs'. He says that himself and the Maharaja, 
attended by the king's grandson, Sirdars, as well 
as General Veritum and Captain Wade, witnessed 
the wonderful feat. He states, "when the Fakir 
Was able to converse, the completion of the feat was 
announced by the discharge of guns and other 
demonstrations of joy ; while a rich chain of gold was 
placed round his neck by Ranjit himself/' 

In an instance recorded by Professor Wilson 
(Essays on the religion of the Hindus. Vol. I. p. 209) 
a Brahmin sat on air wholly unsupported, and 
remained sitting on one occasion for 1 2 minutes, and 
on another, for 40 minutes. 

Colonel Olcott records an account described to 
him by Dr. Rajendra Lai Mitra. It describes a 
Yogin's body found apparently quite lifeless. All 
maimer of tortures was used to recover him in 
vaip. It i^ said that "he was then touched by 
the hand of a female, and he instantly came to 
his senses/' (Lecture on Theosophy, the scientific 
basis of religion, by Colonel, Olcott p. i8>. To the 
same effect there are other proofs of an unimpeachable 


Section IV — Aparoksha. 


Aparoksha is the penultimate stage of the path. 
it is the reward of Bhakti and Upasana continued 
for a sufficient period and in the proper manner. 
It r '|s the cShsutfimation devoutly wished for in crores 
of ages. 

Aparoksha is God-Vision. It takes place when 
the Lord chooses to take a form and flashes as an image 
of light before the inner gaze of the Bhakta. 

Every kind of meditation or introspection implies 
a mental image. No thought is possible without 
pictures presented before the mental eye. But this 
is not Aparoksha. One who is engaged in deep 
prayer, invariably thinks of God in some kind 
of form, however opposed, he may be, in 
profession, to image-worship s$ but the vision thus 
met with is not God but only an image composed of the 
mind-stuff, the in-dweller whereof is God. It is as 
much ' Image-worship ' as the worship of exterior idols 
or pictures. 

In Aparoksha, however, what is visioned is not a 
vehicular form, but God Himself, directly choosing to 
become the object of direct, mental, or spiritual 
perception. The mind educated by prolonged study 
and concentration reaches a highly attenuated subtlety 
of perception to become capable of standing this 
God-Vision * «^t wm 5*TT ^OT*n qw*$W*fc ' is the 
declaration of Sruti. " God is visioned by the 
attenuated intellect of very subtle seers." 

Among commentators of some authority, there is 
possibly a divergence of view in this respect, some 

Xlt] APAROKSMA. 441 

holding God-Vision to be exclusively spiritual in 
character, and others, that the ' GcJ^Vision ' obtained 
before 'release' ifar, is a mental faction, while it' 
is purely spiritual, after Linga Sarira has vanished. 

It is needless to add that the visual perception of 
Divine Avatars is not 'Aparoksha.' Thousands of men 
saw Sri Rama and Sri Krishna when these moved 
about in human society in Northern India. These 
men were not Aparoksha Gnanees by reason of the 
circumstance that they came into ocular contact 
with the form of God. Aparoksha is a technical 
term for the perception of God with the spiritual 
eye, or a peculiar vision with the mental eye, 
by that section of Jeevas who ar@ competent to attain 
Vaikunta and who have qualified themselves by proper 
methods to receive the blessing. 

The form that the Lord chooses to present, differs 
for each Jeeva. Every Jeeva (individual soul) is u a 
reflected image of Hii Maker The Supreme Being 
is the Bimba (Original), and the Jeeva is the Prati- 
Bimba (Reflection). That shape which is^ the 
appropriate original of the reflection in question, is the 
form presented in the God- Vision of that Jeeva. It is 
the visual interview with this form, that consti- 
tutes the Bimbaparoksha spoken of in the Scriptures 
as the penultimate goal. 

It is most important to remember that 'God-Vision' 
is not something extorted from God as a rightful 
reward of services rendered. • It is the result of the 
Divine Grace pure and simple. The Lord blesses only 
those whom he chooses. 

Blessed indeed is the devotee on whom the Lord's 
Grace descends in this manner Human language 
? 6 


is t«o weak to depict the sublimity of the interview 
fa which an impeiifect jeeya stands face to face before 
Perfection itself There He is at last! A figure of light 
stands befpre the Jeeva t a figure of glory and majesty 
too great for words and thoughts- The thrill of the 
moment brings on an ecstasy. The trance defies 
(description. The hair stands on end. The tongue 
cleaves to the roof of the mouth. The brain is dazed; 
but the sensation is one of delicious bliss. The light in 
front is dazzling but soothing withal. It excels myriads 
of suns in power, but is soft and bearable notwith- 
standing, bathing the Jeeva in a flood of bliss. The 
Divine Figure shines there as long as the Jeeva is 
qualified to stand the vision. From the lowest qualified 
jeeva in the scale up to Brahma the four-faced, the 
gradation of qualifications is infinite. The vision varies 
in respect to each Jeeva in splendour as well as 

Oh ! the joy of the mopient when the Lord 
chooses to condescend thus from invisibility. It is a 
crowded moment of glory, worth all the crores of births 
and trials undergone before. It is the moment when 
the vista of the measureless past appears as a happy 
memory, and congratulates the happy Jeeva upon his 
triumphs. It is the moment of undiluted joy when the 
Lord and his humble servant look at each other, to 
solve and laugh away the riddle of life 

Face to face with the Almighty ! A personal 
communion with the Unknown and the Unknowable! 
Imagination reels at the effort to grasp tfye 
majesty of the situation. Imagination is powerless 
to conceive the feelings and thoughts of the blessed 
one at the momentous juncture. It is likely that 
the Jeeva will succumb under the strain w4 excite* 

XM&j AfAfcOKSkA. 'Jpjfc 

iflfcnf No/ tiot so. The Lord appeals smilitif iiiid 
benignant, iftfcpiring and encouraging, loving, and, 
soothing. At this moment there is no occasion for fe&? 
ortrown; To hymn the Lord's praise may be appropri- 
ate for the occasion, and this, the Jeeva is sure to do* 
To offer thanks will be natural. The? heart surcharged 
with BKakti may burst, to pour out love. Bygone 
memories of atheism, agnosticism, and irreligioii, may 
crowd in to beget a little sense of abashment. But the 
heart will pour out thanks with freedom and confidence. 
In the presence of the loving, forgiving, Father, there 
will be no reserve, no shame, and no shyness, to 
prevent a free outflow of prayers and praise, at the 
great condescension. 

We may take it, of course, that advantage will 
not be taken of the occasion to beg for rewards. 
It is no* time at all for whining and boons, for 
petitions and bargains. Vaikunta itself will not be 
sought, though fairly within sight. The blessed 
Bhakta will be content with the Divine Presence and 
will seek nothing more. 

With Aparoksha, the journey of life comes almost 
to a full stop. It marks a turning point in the road 
beyond which the march is easy and smooth. The 
Sruti says : 

%ip# *m **Wr afa*e% <ro*£ 11 

" The knot of the heart bursts asunder ; all doubts 
get exploded for ever ; the store of Karma vanishes: 
when the Supreme Lord is visioned face to face/* 

When it is time, the vision goes out of sight, imd 
the person opens his physical eyes to look about himv 

444 part L-«*Ti:M!iim<*& o# sri madhIva [ctf ap. 

He mefets his kith arid kin, his friends and followers, 
busy plying their trade and carrying on their little 
wars of jarring interest. He mingles with them once 
more, but as an altered man. Even his physical ap- 
pearance now marks him from others as the chosen 
one reserved for the highest destiny. The face 
assumes a new glow, a halo of true Brahma Tejas. 
His sunny smile looks as if showering benediction 

Peace is hereafter the key-note of his life. He 
has brought every kind of strife to an end, and 
made his peace with the Maker. He is ever joyful 
and thankful. He is prepared to lead his younger 
brothers on the path and save as many as possible. 
Some look upon him as a visionary and point the 
finger of ridicule at him. Others call him mad. 
He is deaf to the scorn and sneer of the wordly- 
wise. He is innocent and buoyant like a babe, 
quite calm and unruffled. He thinks no evil, is 
friendly to all. He never thinks of himself. He, 
preserves a dignified equanimity under all circumstances 
of pleasure and pain. He is afraid of none and 
provokes fear in none. Agitation of every kind, 
outburst of griel and anger, are unknown to him. He 
is reflective and cheerful. 

Bhagavata XI. 2. 40. 

41 Thus, the sage continues to utter the name of 
the beloved. He feels love swelling up in a heart 
surcharged with emotion. He laughs, he weeps, he 
sings, he dances, like a lunatic beyond the pale of 

" Sometimes, they weep in reveries* of the 
Immutable One. At times, they laugh, rejoice, and 
sp6ak unwordly thoughts. They dance, sing, and 
imitate the Lord. They get mute, absorbed in thought 
of the Great One, and immersed in bliss/* 

One source of his excessive spontaneity is the 
intense relief afforded by the riddance of Karma. For, 
the Vision has broken the power of Karma over him. 
Of the three kinds of Karma that clogged his way and 
shadowed his steps in the immeasurable past, Sanchita 
the accumulated heap has been made a bonfire of by 
the torch of his knowledge (Gnana). The chain of 
Agami Karma waiting to bear fruits in the future has 
been snaped, and the links cast away. The Prarabdha 
alone remains to be suffered. This is a limited and fixed 
quantity, the sources of fresh supply and accumulation 
having been stopped- Even as to the prarabdha, 
concessions and reductions are possible by the Lord's 

The Aparokshita Jeeva continues in a physical 
body as long as the remnant of Prorabdha continues 
to exact its debt. It may be necessary to take some 
further incarnations too, to work it away, and this too, 
is done. The Prarabdha may consist of enjoyments or 
sufferings and both alike are gone through without 

If, as some Indian systems hold, the law were 
otherwise, and Karma was a hard creditor who should 
be paid to the last farthing by the worker himself, if 
there was no such thing as Aparoksha and the grace of 
Qq6 to interfere between the debtor and the Shylock, 

44& **Akf 1L — fEACtilftCS OF SRI MADHVA fcttAPt 

eterftity it»fe!f will be too short to work aWstf the 
debt- Tii^re could be no esoape for any man, 
however righteous, from the grip of Karmic seeds, 
and no end to the recurring decimal of births and 
deaths on the physical plane. For, while making 
feeble efforts to repay portions of the accumulated 
debt, further borrowings with enormous compound 
interest must be taking place. If the past debts 
be repaid in arithmetical progression, the inflow 
of additional loans takes place in geometrical 
progression. It is God's mercy that provides against 
such a dreary outlook. It is His Will that whosoever 
has visioned Him should emerge the victor of Karma. 
It is he that bids Karma retire vanquished from the 
field, as soon as the Bhakta has visioned the 
Almighty and settled accounts with his Prarabdha. 

As soon as the Prarabdha has been worked 
away, the Jeeva repairs to one of the heavenly 
abodes suited to his position, and waits till the end 
of the Mahakalpa. The Jeevas who have had " God- 
vision " fall under 5 heads. They are Padayogins 
(partial sages), Yogins, Tapaswins, Gnanees, and 
Mahagnanees, according to their spiritual worth. 
Pddayogins tarry in a part of Maharloka reserved for 
this class. This world consists of two parts : 
one inhabited by Jeevas liable to relapse into 
Samsara, and the other occupied by those who are not 
so liable. The latter are mere sojourners who will in 
proper time proceed to Vaikunta. The next division 
of Aparoksha Gnanins called Yogins dwell similarly in 
Janoloka. This world is wholly inaccessible to any 
jeeva that has not had " God- Vision." No soul that 
is liable to the bondage of physical rebirth has access 
to this place. The sages known technically as 
Tafammm repair to Tapoloka, a region higher than 


Janoloka, a^id similarly barred against ail but jeevas 
corning there en route to Vaikunta, Those who are termed 
Gnanees dwell in Satyaloka. The highest division 
of sages known as Mahagnanees sojourn in a portion 
of Vaikunta itself, the section reserved for the Un* 
released souls who wait there to be transferred to 
the released section at the end of the Mahakajpa 
and the ensuing Pralaya. 

All these Jeevas sojourning in the various 
worlds appropriate for each class, hold on to their 
Linga Sarira. They are not yet free. Their libera- 
tion is no doubt assured, but they have to 
wait. At the end ot the roo years of the 
Four-faced Brahma's life (36,000 Kalpas, representing 
many millions of human years) they seek entrance 
into the womb of the Supreme Being through the 
Four-faced Brahma. The process by which all the 
Jeevas are rolled in or involuted, has been briefly 
adverted to in a previous chapter. The Jeeva lower in 
rank merges in the one that is higher, and he in his turn 
into one higher than himself, and so on, right up to the 
Four-faced Brahma, gathering up all the Jeevas in this 
manner. Virancha, the four-faced, enters into the 
Father's womb and dwells there unmanifest during the 
whole of the Maha Pralaya. 

In this long night, all souls released as well as 
unreleased, are gathered together in God, inactive and 
quiescent. At the close of the night, and at the bestir- 
ring of daybreak, all the souls, released and unreleased, 
issue forth for their respective, appointed, destination. 
The unreleased souls who have to go down to bodily 
incarnations pass through the Divine forms of Vasu- 
deva, Sankarshana, Pradyumna, and Anirudha. The 
unreleased souls who have had " God-Vision " and are 


qualified to be released, go over to Vasudeva, issue 
•thence, * follow the four-faced Virancha to the river 
of immortality (Viraja), and take with him a plunge 
in the sacred waters. This bath unhusks them of 
the Linga Sarira and sets them free. They enter 
Vaikunta as liberated souls The only remaining section 
viz-, the liberated souls of previous Kalpas who 
remained in God's womb for the Pralayic night, issue 
from, God's womb and get into the body of the 
Vasudeva-form, and from here, they march on to their 
ov/n abode in Vaikunta, without having anything to do 
with the Sankarshana and other forms of the Divine 
Evolution and unconcerned in the processes of creation 
connected with the Sankarshana and other Avatars 
engaged in creative activity. 

The Linga Bhanga of the Aparoksha Gnaniisthe 
line of demarcation between souls in bondage and those 
that are free. 



The Released souls are said to dwell in a region 
known as Vykunta. This is the highest Heaven, on 
reaching which, the Jeeva is not liable to revert to 

"He does not revert/' u does not revert" is the solemn 
language of the last aphorism of the Brahma Sootr&s. 

Every religious system presents a descriptive 
picture of Heaven to its followers as much to be believed 
in as an article of faith as to furnish an incentive to 
a religious life. Some systems seem to offer fantastic 
attractions. It is said that the Mahomedan faith speaks 
of Bouris (beautiful women) as a great feature of 
Heavenly life. With Christians, the idea of meeting 
kith and kin again, and dwelling with them in 
heavenly fellowship, is somewhat prominently 
brought out and emphasized. They do not believe 
in transmigration of souls. Relations and friends 
who have been dear below, are supposed to be 
particularly drawn together in a reunion of kinship 
and friendship, and riveted together by ties of 
affection not to be sundered for ever. Christian 
divines dwell on this feature of reunion with 
fondness, and console bereaved mourners by drawing 
attention to this prospect of heavenly life. 

Among Hindus there are representatives of 
every possible view of Heaven. Some of them 
consider that it is an abode set apart tor the released. 
Others deem it a mere state or condition of the soul. 
There are, in our books, gorgeous descriptions of 


golden walls, rubied pavements, towers and turrets, 
thrones and canopies dazzling with diamonds, to 
convey an idea of superb splendour surrounding the 

Nyaya philosophy inculcates the view that absence 
of pain constitutes the joy of the liberated soul. This 
system considers pleasure as a negative state merely, 
being synonymous with painlessness. 

Adwaita philosophy towers high in speculative 
flights upon this point. It holds absorption into 
Brahman as the goal, an absolute merger and 
identity with the Supreme Being. Adwaita holds the 
extinction of the soul as the ultimate goal, an identity 
reached by absorption into the Para Brahman. As 
there never was anything really different, what 
vanished is the inscrutable Maya and nothing 
else, according to Monists. Hence, when the identity 
with Brahman is realised, all individuality is 
annihilated, and the liberated soul ceases to exist 
phenomenally by being and becoming one with the 
Lord. Unity is thus the Summum Bonum in Sri 
Sankara's system. As Brahman is attributeless, the 
Jeeva becomes that likewise. He abides as such for 
ever. He may be luminosity, but illumines nothing. 
He is knowledge but cognizes not any object, not 
being a knower. He is happiness itself but is not 
happy. He has thus no will, intellect, or volition, and 
no joys and no sorrows. 

It is a favourite simile with the sacred writers to 
compare individual souls to sparks shot out of Brahman 
the central mass of fire, and to depict release as 
a regathering and absorption of the sparks into their 
source. It is not unusual also to illustrate the 
same idea by comparing Jeevas to rivers, which, 


having had individuality and separate names, 
merge in the ocean and become absorbed thereto, 
and lose their name and form by the merger * These 
illustrations are consistent with both Dwarta and 
Adwaita, if the simile is not strained too far, and if 
the elements of similitude reasonably interpreted. 

The extinction of the soul is what Visishta 
Adwaitins and Dwaitins fight shy of as a serious 
error. They have no patience with the doctrine 
that released souls have no consciousness of pleasures 
and joys. Such a condition, would, in their view, be 
no better than that of inanimate matter. The luminosity 
of a crystal is nothing to it, and does not elevate it 
above the level of minerals. If the released soul 
merged into and unified with Brahman, is but a 
luminous crystal, that position is, according to non- 
Monistic schools, not worth attaining, and is not a 
consummation devoutly to be wished for. 

Sri Ramanuja and Sri Madhva hold that released 
souls are not absorbed into Brahman in the sense of 
attaining identity with the Supreme Being. The Jeeva 
still retains his individuality and never loses it. He 
dwells in Vykunta and enjoys bliss in the Divine 
Presence and fellowship. 

On one point of doctrine, Sri Madhva differs 
from Sri Ramanuja. Whereas the latter holds that 
all released souls enjoy an equal measure of bliss 
in Vykunta, Sri Madhva considers that there is no 
equality in bliss among Jeevas and that there are 
degrees of enjoyment graduated and allotted accord- 
ing to their worth. Sri Ramanuja's view is that the 
released souls attain to a bliss equal to that of God 
Himself. Sri Madhva sees blasphemy in this theory 
of equality. 

i$l t>ART tl.— TEACHINGS Of «$fcf MAbHVA t CHA **' 

' There are 4 kinds of Mukti recognised in the scrip- 
tures, Sdobya, Sameepfa, Sar<wpy<&, and Sat/tejya* To 
dwell in th& same region as God, and to dwell in 
close proximity with Him, are the first two conditions. 
Similarity in a special sense with God, and the 
privilege of enjoying by, in, and through, the Divine 
limbs themselves, constitute the last two. These 
conditions apply to the Muktas according to their 

The one characteristic feature of all Muktas is that 
they have, none of them, the slightest trace of pain. 

In this respect, they are all alike. As to bliss, 
there are infinite varieties, that of God being at 
the top, an absolutely unattainable Perfection of 
Bliss. Bliss is of course not a negation. Pleasure 
and pain are two distinct realities. 

The joy that suffuses the soul is akin to what 
is felt in profound sleep even in the state of 
Samsara, being purely spiritual in nature. After the 
riddance of Linga Sarira, the soul's enjoyments (or 
sufferings in the case of Tamasas) take place with 
the organs pure and simple of the spirit itself 
Prakriti, matter, has no lot or part in these 
functions. The spiritual sense-organs and the 
spiritual mind act in the released state freely. The 
Muktas see God and enjoy Him by spiritual AparoksAa. 

In the state of Samsara, Sakshi, the organ of 
spiritual perception, does cognize certain objects. For 
instance, self-consciousness known as w£ ' 1/ is a 
cognition of the spiritual organ, Sakshi. So, pleasure 
and pain are always realisations by the spiritual sense* 
Every idea of the sensuous mind (as distinguished from 
the spiritual mind) is cognised by Sakshi and presented 

to the smil. Time and space are also the objects, «$* 
Sakshi perception. 

The difference between a mental idea and a 
spiritual idea is, that the former may be a delusion 
and may be corrected or rectified by a later idea or 
knowledge, while the latter is immutable. A mental 
idea is liable to be doubted or controverted, but a 
spiritual idea is not. We feel pleasure or pain and 
there is am end of it.. It never forms the subject of 
debate afterwards or at any time. No man comes 
to doubt it and asks himself, " is it true that I felt 
the sensation of joy, grief, or pain ? " But as to a 
mental perception, it is only too evident that 
hallucinations often occur and rectifications by 
sounder perceptions and experiences. 

In Moksha, all is spiritual thought, will, and 
emotion. Delusion is then unknown. By the merest 
volition every conceivable desire is gratified. The 
Jeeva is able to assume any shape or take any 
body* He has absolutely no difficulty or impediment 
in gratifying any wish, for, his equipment consists ot 
organs which are self-luminous luminosities whose 
light is not hidden or obstructed by impediments 
or partitions. 

It is a fundamental theory in respect to the 
soul that whatever appertains to it, is an uncreated 
entity. The capacity of the Jeeva, its aptitudes 
and tendencies, its joys and sorrows, are the 
permanent attributes *of the soul, undifferentiated 
from its essence. 

Hence, the bliss felt in Moksha is something not 
treated and fcestowed on the Mukta, but something 
which had all along remained latent a nd inherent in 
tiim ami which, hy the Grace and blessing ^f Cod, 


became patent after redemption. It is the soul's 
essence that becomes unfolded and manifest, the 
obstructions and impediments having been removed 
by God- Hence redemption in the Hindu sense is 
self-realization, the bibs attained being not a wind- 
fall of an acquisition, but a mere blossoming of the 
soul f £ essential nature. 

If good works, meritorious acts, happened to be 
performed by any Jeeva after the attainment of ' God 
vision' and before the snapping of Linga Sarira, that 
merit is not lost. It tends to add to the volume and 
intensity of the Heavenly bliss for him. A demerit 
under similar circumstances has the opposite effect of 
dimming his glory for a time, though, of course, pain 
is entirely out of the question for a Mukta. 

Perfect harmony and peace reigns in the region. 
Jarring interests are unknown for the simple 
reason that no one aspires for what he is not 
fit for, nor fails to obtain what is due to him 
When material prisons clung to him and imposed 
their laws on him, his desires, thoughts, and 
actions, were not his own, but the resultants of a con- 
flict between his inherent tendencies and those of his 
jailers. This gave rise to a double government. 
This was producing disharmony at every turn by 
giving birth to unworthy aspirations and desires. 
Samsdra was a veritable disease for the reason that a 
foreign body perpetually irritated the soul by its 
presence. In the released state, the Jeeva is free from 
this clog. He is therefore able to will, think, and act, 
aright. No conflict is, in the very nature of things, 
conceivable. The Supreme Being ever present with 
him in the closest proximity, remained invisible and 
unrecognized during Samsara by reason of the Avidya 


screens. Those screens having been removed, the 
Sakshi of the Jeeva realizes the Divine fellowship 
without let or hindrance. The most exhilarating feature 
of Heavenly life is the Bliss of love directed . towards 
God- What is enjoyed is the perfect bliss of love, 
perfect in the sense that every Mukta has the fullest 
measure of which he is capable > During Samsira too, 
he tasted something of love, but it is herein Vykunta 
that he realizes its potency and blissfulness, its grace 
and beauty, its charms and ectasies.